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CdA mulls new rules on day care

Day-care workers in Coeur d’Alene would need an annual city license, and owners would have to disclose if any immediate family member is a registered sex offender under proposals being considered by the City Council.

The council will decide Tuesday whether to strengthen local laws governing day cares, including in-home facilities.

It’s one of several steps city officials are considering to answer the public’s concern about protecting children from sex offenders and violent felons following several incidents this summer.

This week, the Coeur d’Alene Planning Commission approved recommendations to change city zoning laws, including requiring a special-use permit for any house where three or more felons on probation or parole are living. The city would only allow such transitional housing in commercial zones, not residential neighborhoods.

Deputy City Attorney Warren Wilson said the changes are a response to residents’ worries. About 140 Coeur d’Alene residents signed a petition this spring asking the City Council to do something about two registered sex offenders living in a house blocks away from schools.

The additions to the child-care law have been in the works for nearly a year. Wilson said a recent incident in which the city had to give a day-care license to a woman whose husband was a registered sex offender is proof the law needs revision.

Misty Krous had her day-care license revoked in 2001 after her husband, Stephen Christopher Krous, was convicted of fondling an 11-year-old who was staying overnight at the couple’s home. At the time, Misty Krous was running an in-home day care in Post Falls called Loving Hands.

Both Panhandle Health District and Coeur d’Alene, the licensing agency for Happy Days, said they were aware of Misty Krous’ background when they issued her child-care permit in December 2004.

But the city said it had to issue Krous the license because she formed a limited liability corporation; by doing so, there was no legal basis for the city to conduct a background check on her husband.

In July, Stephen Krous allegedly violated his probation by visiting his wife’s day care and attempting to entice a 3-year-old with a lollipop. He denies the allegations.

The case has been turned over to the Kootenai County Prosecutor’s Office and the city is waiting for the results of the investigation before it will make a decision on whether to revoke Krous’ day-care license.

Under the proposal, an owner would have to disclose to the city, parents and employees if a spouse or any immediate family member is a registered sex offender.

It would also require all day-care workers, not just owners, to get $5 licenses from the city, and renew them each year.

The license will show that the employee has had a background check, completed continuing education courses and is certified in CPR and first aid.

Lewis said bad day-care workers currently can jump from job to job.

“Bottom line, we are trying to protect kids,” said Councilman Ben Wolfinger, who is also a Kootenai County Sheriff’s captain.

The City Council will consider the child care laws Tuesday at its 6 p.m. meeting at City Hall, 710 E. Mullan Avenue. For more information, call 769-230.

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