Family works to change state law allowing felons to care for children

STANWOOD, Wash. -- After a local family lost their 2-year-old son, they’ve been working to change a law they say allowed a felon to operate the day care their toddler attended.

Simple tasks like feeding her 2-year-old son Zachary brings Shayna Roberts so much joy.

However, time with her baby boy is also a painful reminder that her other son, David, is gone.

“I think the solace of seeing Zachary and seeing David come out in him is kind of bittersweet,” said Roberts. “It’s happy but also sad.”

On January 2013, Roberts said she lost her son after he died from head injuries he got while at an Oak Harbor day care. Owners of the day care were never charged, and they’ve since closed and left the state.

She said the owner’s husband, who worked there, had a felony on his criminal record.

Roberts said because his crime for burglary happened more than five years prior, he wasn’t disqualified from operating a day care.

“Teachers have stricter laws than this; I’m a nurse and we have stricter laws than this, dog groomers have stricter laws than the state is putting on child care providers,” said Roberts.

Crimes like burglary, stalking, promoting prostitution, promoting pornography are just a few that only disqualifies a child care provider for five years; Roberts said it’s unacceptable.

“I think there are plenty of jobs out there that don’t involve children where felons can prove that they’ve changed and make a living, I just don’t think our kids should be the testing for that,” said Roberts.

It’s why she has been fighting to get revisions made to the “Director’s List” -- or at the very least require day cares in Washington to reveal any criminal background.

Last month, the Washington Department of Early Learning is going to be making revisions to the director’s list of allowable offenses.

In the meantime, the Roberts are trying to gather more than 10,000 signatures on, a petition they plan to present to Gov. Jay Inslee and state lawmakers.