Virginia Tougher Than Other States on Removing Names From Sex Offender List
By Suri Crowe
Lynchburg, VA - In neighboring North Carolina, Bailey Joe Mills had successfully petitioned to be removed from the sex offender list. In Virginia, registered sex offenders can actually petition to remove their names from the list, too, but the good news for parents is that it's really difficult to do so. In 2008, the Virginia General Assembly made it even tougher for non-violent and violent sex offenders to do that. If you leave your child at a licensed day-care center in Virginia, your kid is likely to be in pretty good hands, thanks to heavy regulation. Shelly Hunt, a mother and longtime daycare owner and operator echoes the sentiments so many are feeling regarding, the home child care operation in North Carolina that investigators busted for child porn. "Just sadness, your stomach just aches for those parents for those children," Hunt said. Hunt co-owns the Caterpillar Clubhouse, one of five in the Lynchburg area. She and her staff care for 850 kids a day, a job she takes very seriously. And so does the state of Virginia. The state strictly regulates child care operations, through the Department of Social Services and a strict Sex Offender Registry. "They have lots of regulations to try to make sure that this does not happen-so for daycare we have background checks," Hunt said. Now there's a law that requires any licensed child care center employee to have passed all background checks before he or she is left alone with a child. Lieutenant Kyle Williams is a former child sex crimes investigator. He says background checks should start at home. "Be involved with who's caring for your children with who's looking after your children. Do your background interview, do your legwork. Interview these people like you're interviewing for a job," Williams said. Williams says more than anything-follow your gut especially when it comes to your kids. Don't be afraid to ask the tough questions. Ask if your child care giver has ever been convicted of a crime, check out their Facebook pages and get references. And you can go to the Virginia State Police website to look at the sex offender registry and see if anyone connected to your child is listed.
WSET ABC 13 covers news, sports and weather in the Heart of Virginia: Lynchburg, Danville and Roanoke and nearby communities including Amherst, Lexington, Cave Springs, Blacksburg, Martinsville, Farmville, North Shore, Glasgow, Altavista, Gretna, Chatham, Blairs, Bassett, Rocky Mt, Penhook, Moneta and Buena Vista