Homicide

Deaths prompt crack down on unlicensed day care operators

This June 15, 2014 photo provided by the family of Joseph Allen shows one-year-old Joseph Allen, center with his grandparents LuAnn Allen, left, and Herman Allen, right in Richmond, Va. Allen died after a fire broke out at his Midlothian home day care, which was being operated illegally, in 2014. Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed a bill this week that would make it a felony — punishable with up to 10 years in prison — if a child is hurt or killed in a day care that is not properly licensed.  (Matthew Allen via AP)

This June 15, 2014 photo provided by the family of Joseph Allen shows one-year-old Joseph Allen, center with his grandparents LuAnn Allen, left, and Herman Allen, right in Richmond, Va. Allen died after a fire broke out at his Midlothian home day care, which was being operated illegally, in 2014. Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed a bill this week that would make it a felony — punishable with up to 10 years in prison — if a child is hurt or killed in a day care that is not properly licensed. (Matthew Allen via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Virginia is cracking down on illegally operated home day care centers after a string of child deaths in unlicensed care.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed a bill this week that would make it a felony punishable with up to 10 years in prison if a child is hurt or killed in a day care center that's not properly licensed. Current law limits prosecutors to bringing misdemeanor charges in such cases.

The bill was pushed by the family of Joseph Allen, a toddler who died after a fire broke out at a Midlothian home day care in 2014. The woman who ran that day care was charged with a misdemeanor for operating a day care without a license. Allen's family says they hope the law will prevent such tragedies in the future.