Childcare providers invited to sex offender meeting

Registered sex offenders and child care facilities are like oil and water. In an effort to make sure they don’t ever mix, Island County Sheriff’s Office is holding a series of meetings with child-care providers throughout the county.

The first of the special meetings, for day-care operators in Central and North Whidbey, is scheduled for Wednesday, June 4, 7 p.m., at Oak Harbor School District board room at 350 S. Oak Harbor Street.

The purpose of the special meeting, according to the Sheriff’s Office, is to get local child-care providers together to provide information about registered sex offenders, the law and other law enforcement concerns.

The meeting comes after a licensed day-care provider in the Calista Court area complained at a sex offender notification meeting that she hadn’t been notified by authorities of a Level 3 sex offender moving into her neighborhood. The Department of Corrections ended up holding the man in prison instead of allowing him to live so close to a child care facility.

“We want to make sure things like that don’t occur in the future,” said Jan Smith, spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office. She said all the licensed child care facilities have been sent invitations, but she also hopes informal child-care providers attend.

Smith said the Sheriff’s Office can help child-care providers be more aware about sex offenders of all levels in their neighborhoods. She said officials want to discuss whether the providers, for example, are interested in receiving periodic e-mail notifications about registered sex offenders.

Smith said advocates will also be at the meeting discuss subjects like talking to kids about abuse without scaring them, identifying and reporting suspected abuse, and common-sense reminders about keeping kids safe.

You can reach News-Times reporter Jessie Stensland at jstens or call 675-6611.

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