Haile Brockington would have been four years old on Friday.
Instead, her life and death is now behind a new rule that will impact Palm Beach County child care providers like Ruta Buvnyt. Starting January 1st, Buvnyt, owner of Bright Child Academy in West Palm Beach, will be required to equip her transportation vans with safety alarms. The alarms are designed to ensure no child is left behind.
"I think it's a very great idea, it just makes the transportation more secure because it's a big responsibility and there have been accidents in the past," explains Buvnyt.
Once the driver turns off the van, he or show has to physically walk to the back of the vehicle to turn off the alarm. The idea is, since the alarm needs to be turned off manually, the driver will be forced to do a physical and visual sweep making sure all children are safely off the van.
"That extra button you're going to have to press, is just going to be that one extra step to make it more secure," says Buvnyt. Two of her vans are already equipped with the device, one more still needs to be retrofitted.
The new rule is Palm Beach County's response to the 2010 tragedy that left 2 1/2 year old Haile Brockington dead. Her lifeless body was found in the back of a Katie's Kids daycare van after being forgotten about on a hot August day. The center has since closed its doors.
The Palm Beach County health department will monitor the alarm requirement. Though the rule takes effect January 1st, childcare providers will have until September to comply. Government funding has also been made available to help childcare providers pay for the cost of the alarms. The devices can cost anywhere from $200 to $500 per alarm.
"Is this a cure all, no, but anything you can do to save the life of a child, you're going to do," said Health Department spokesman, Tim O'Connor.
To learn how you can get reimbursed for the child safety alarms, visit:
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