Columbus home daycare providers come to defense - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Columbus home daycare providers come to defense

By Laura Ann Sills - email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Home daycare providers in Columbus are rallying behind the owner of the day care that went up in flames last Friday.  The fire left one child dead and three others in burn centers.

Gabriel Jones attended a meeting for home child care providers in Columbus and got emotional as she took up for the owner, Rochell Jefferson, "Those people had a choice to make as far as bringing their children there. There are many day care providers in this city for them to choose that person as a provider and not leave; they felt their children were safe."

Mary Rozier was also at the meeting and believes that nothing wrong was done, "I know she had to follow procedures as well as like I said we are monitored all the time. I think we're more monitored than the day care centers."

The state agency, Bright From the Start, regulates home daycares.

Fire drills once a month, safety training classes, and continuing education are all a must.

Chief Thomas Streeter of Columbus Fire and EMS says the incident has especially affected firefighters with kids and grand kids. 

Chief Streeter says Bright from the Start is sending their own investigator down to see if Jefferson was following codes, "Of course you're going to have to have an evacuation plan, depends on how many children they were licensed for they have to have fire alarm and sprinklers."

Columbus fire investigators are working with Bright From the Start to make sure there weren't any violations.

The so-called sisterhood of home child care providers believes there was no wrongdoing. Jones says, "I want to eliminate all the hoopla and negativity about home child care facilities.  I would like for the world to know family child care is a very close knit scenario, we are professionals, not baby sitters."

Chief Streeter wanted everyone to be aware that the fire department offers free home inspections.  They will come to your home and check for fire hazards and explain fire safety.  Call Columbus Fire and EMS at 706-653-3520 if you are interested. 

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