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Baby-Sitting a Crime?

Aired November 20, 2003 - 13:51   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, a good man may be hard to find, and any working mom will tell you, so is a good baby-sitter.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: No one knows that better than some Florida mothers whose arrangement for watching each other's children has landed them in trouble with the law.

Roxanne Evanina of affiliate WTVT explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROXANNE EVANINA, WTVT REPORTER (voice-over): These moms have been friends for years. And they'd do just about anything for each other.

LAURIE MCPHERSON, MOTHER: I have no family here to watch my children, so my friends are my family.

EVANINA: Laurie McPherson is a mother of two and holds a part- time job. When timing isn't quite right, she calls on her girlfriends to give her a helping hand.

MCPHERSON: My friends and I trade baby-sitting services all the time. And that's all we're doing. We're baby-sitting. We're not doing anything else.

EVANINA: But the Pinellas County Licensing Board for Child Care disagrees. They say McPherson is committing a crime and may even go to jail.

MCPHERSON: And according to the law, it states you are not even allowed to have your neighbor's friends over to play with your children more than one day a week unless you are licensed.

EVANINA: Sound ridiculous? McPherson thinks so. Of course, she doesn't operate a licensed home day care facility. She doesn't even get paid. And this law only affects Pinellas County.

LINDA TAMANINI, PINELLAS COUNTY LICENSE BOARD: What we have in our records shows, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, a consistent care arrangement that would meet the definition of child care.

EVANINA: The women call the law absurd.

SARA RIVENBURGH, MOTHER: It takes away my parental rights, my right to say, this is a safe environment for my child and I am making a choice to leave my son with this person that I know. EVANINA: Leaving your child with a baby-sitter is legal only if the baby-sitter comes to your house. The board is aware they can't stop everyone breaking the law. And they only caught these mommies because someone turned them in.

TAMANINI: And we're not -- we're really not saying that she can't care for the children. We're just saying that, if she chooses to do it with that regularity, that she would need to have a license.

EVANINA (on camera): The county says Laurie McPherson and her friends can do two things: either put their children in day care. Or, for about $65, screening and training courses, they can start their own.

MCPHERSON: I don't feel I need to be licensed to watch my friend's or neighbor's kid. It's an agreement between us. We are friends. And just because somebody does hold a license does not mean they are capable or credible.

EVANINA (voice-over): These friends are sticking together and plan on fighting the law until they can get it changed.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Well, the Pinellas County License Board has agreed to take another look at the baby-sitting rules next month.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com




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