HONOLULU - The Hawaii Legislature wants child care facilities in the state to do more to protect infants from sudden death.
The state Senate approved a bill Tuesday to require child care facilities to adopt policies that ensure infants sleep safely. The bill was one of several that the Senate moved forward Tuesday. The measures now go to Gov. Neil Abercrombie for his signature.
Michelle Rho, from the nonprofit organization Child and Family Service, said suffocation is the leading cause of death for Hawaii children under the age of 1.
Hawaii is 1 of 7 states that doesn't regulate how infants and toddlers sleep in child care centers, Rho said.
Makiki resident Nancy Kern also advocated for the bill to pass.
Kern, who works at the Department of Health, said the issue is personal. She lost her 4-month-old daughter Colleen to sudden infant death syndrome in 1977.
Kern said educating caretakers on the importance of proper sleeping positions is a meaningful way to prevent more tragedies.
The Department of Human Services supported the proposal, which would require care homes to abide by the department's rules about infant sleep safety.
The bill says that more than 4,500 infants die unexpectedly in the U.S. every year.
Lawmakers also passed a bill that would change the licensing requirements for health insurance providers to help Hawaii comply with national health care reform.
The Senate also passed a measure that gives youth undergoing informal adjustment by the courts the option of participating in a restorative justice program.
Both measures will now be sent to the governor along with the child safety proposal. Abercrombie has the option to sign, ignore or veto each bill.