Amari Jackson was 23 months old when he died of dehydration.
HAMDEN, CT (WFSB) -
A Hamden mother is on a crusade to get laws changed after her son died because his babysitter refused to give him anything to drink.
Amari Jackson was 23 months old when he died of dehydration. The babysitter gave him "hot sauce" and "withheld liquids." She was convicted and spent five years in prison.
The mother, Sara Hicks, said confidentiality laws stopped her from knowing the babysitter had a history with the state and her own children had been taken from her.
Hicks has started an online petition and is hoping to get laws changed soon. She said she feels parents have the right to know more about who is taking care of their children.
Five years ago, Hicks left her son for eight days with Sharon Patterson, the mother of a good friend. Eyewitness News spoke with Hicks as she remembers that day like it was yesterday.
"The day my son passed away. I got to the house, she was getting her son dressed. Her brother was on the computer as if nothing had happened," Hicks said. "Police told me my son went to the hospital and no one went with him."
Patterson was arrested and charged with negligent homicide. During the trial, Hicks learned things about Patterson she never knew.
Patterson had a long history with the Department of Children and Families and her own children had been removed because of her drug addiction.
Hicks said if she had known, she would never have left her little boy. She has left the state and has started an online petition. Hicks said wants what she's calling "Amari's Law."
The law will allow for a registry for child abusers to be available to everyone. Currently only those who hire childcare workers such as agencies and daycare centers have access to cases of abuse or neglect.
"There is a consensus within our department and office, there should be a mechanism in place to have that happen," said Faith Vos Winkle, who is with the Office of the Child Advocate. "What we don't agree on is making it totally public where anyone can make a query."
There are concerns about confidentiality when opening the registry up to everyone. A proposal is being made to have those being hired to sign a notarized letter, which would allow a background check.
DCF received 46,000 reports of abuse or neglect, however, less than a quarter were substantiated, which is roughly 12,000.
Because not every report is found to be credible, some people's reputations could be unfairly portrayed.
"If we have access to this information, we can see how many cases fall through the cracks," Hicks said. "How many cases could have been prevented."
The petition has received more than 6,000 signatures. Anyone can sign the petition, located at the following link.
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