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Two Words that Can Save Lives: Look Again

June 2, 2014
DECAL employees standing with the Governor and the First Lady on the steps of the Capitol

On May 27, Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) was joined by Governor Nathan Deal, First Lady Sandra Deal and leaders of several state agencies to launch a campaign to remind parents and caregivers of children about the dangers of leaving children unattended in vehicles. We’re calling this campaign “Look Again,” and it includes, among other things, a YouTube video featuring Georgia parents who have tragically lost children to vehicular heatstroke. We’re hoping this campaign will help raise awareness and prevent similar incidents in the future.

Governor Deal put it this way: “During Georgia’s hot summer months, there is a higher risk of serious injury or death as a result of a child being left alone inside a vehicle. Since 2010, seven children in Georgia have died due to vehicular heat stroke. I ask that all Georgians join me in preventing future loss of life by being aware of your surroundings and never taking the chance of leaving a child in a car, even for just a minute. Lives can be saved if we take the time to Look Again.”

First Lady Sandra Deal added her support by saying, “We as parents and grandparents work hard to keep our children safe and out of harm’s way. By increasing awareness and reminding your family and friends to Look Again, together we can prevent future tragedies here in Georgia.”

Over 370,000 children across the state depend on approximately 6,000 child care providers daily, most of whom transport children on a regular basis to and from home, after school to the child care center and on field trips. We receive calls about incidents where children are left in vehicles from a few minutes to several hours, and we investigate each incident. According to our records, in FY2012, 21 children were left in vehicles by child care providers; 17 in FY2013; and already 18 in FY2014. While thankfully we have not seen any child deaths in child care centers since 2011, we want these dangerous close calls to decrease. Consequently, safely transporting children will remain a focus for our agency.

“Look Again” is a message to anyone caring for a child — child care programs, teachers, parents and grandparents — to always account for the children in their care as they drive them from place to place. When you arrive at your destination, check the front and back of your car, and after you’ve looked, just to be sure, look again. There is absolutely no reason for a child to suffer or die in these conditions.

Just last month, a 2-year-old girl in Clarkston, Georgia died of heatstroke when she became trapped in the family car for over an hour, and our agency revoked the license of a child care center in Macon that left a 5-year-old boy in a van for more than 4 hours last April. The problem continues, and we must take action. We’re asking the public to be our eyes and ears in the community, and if they see a child left alone in a vehicle, call 911 immediately; emergency personnel are trained to respond.

Thanks in advance for the role you will play in the “Look Again” campaign. The lives of our children are far too precious to ignore or be complacent regarding this critically important issue.

About the Author

Governor Nathan Deal appointed Bobby Cagle as Commissioner of Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning in January 2011. Commissioner Cagle leads the agency that is responsible for the early care and education of hundreds of thousands of Georgia’s children. He oversees an annual budget of $681 million for programs focused on licensing, nutrition, child care subsidy, quality improvement and Georgia’s Pre-K.

Prior to joining Bright from the Start, Commissioner Cagle served as the Director of Legislative and External Affairs for the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS). He also served previously as the Family Services Director for DFCS and was responsible for statewide policy and program development in the areas of child welfare, domestic violence, sexual assault and provider contracting. His career includes positions as Deputy Director of Youth and Family Services for the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services in Charlotte, N.C., the Director of the Graham County Department of Social Services in Robbinsville, N.C., and as a Judicial District Manager for the North Carolina Department of Correction. Commissioner Cagle began his career as a social worker and was also an adult probation officer.

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