Kristi's Kids

Dec 21, 2012 7:00 PM

Pool fence design may stall foster placement

TUCSON - It's no secret there's a serious shortage of foster homes in Tucson.
A dramatic increase in child abuse and neglect cases has Pima County out of beds.

Multiple sources tell Kristi's Kids that children are still sleeping in C.P.S. offices.

In the meantime, grandparents are offering to open their doors but they say there's incredible red tape.

Installing a fence around their pool has become problematic.

Sounds like a case for Kristi's Kids' partner Pool Guard of Tucson.

Snow caps the Catalina Mountains as Dane from Pool Guard installs a self-closing gate at an eastside home.

Why on earth is he doing this in December? Because Sheila Danella and her husband have custody of their grandchildren, a 9- month old baby girl and 5-year-old boy. And they can't get licensed without passing a home inspection.

"The pool fence was a huge obstacle on becoming licensed," says Sheila.

The proper barrier costs $1,500. But they don't have the money after spending cash on other requirements.

Kristi's Kids made some calls.

"And Kristi said, ‘You know, what to do you think Matt. Can you help us?'" says Matt Baranowski with Pool Guard of Tucson. "There's definitely a family in need here and it was a no-brainer for us as long as there's a child involved, we wanted to help."

Matt knows there are more rules for pool fences at foster homes.

"And then there's also a requirement of having these mini paddle locks right here so that the fence cannot be taken apart."

For most places a pool fence must be four feet high. At a foster home the requirement is five feet. More material means a more expensive install.

That didn't stop Pool Guard from picking up the job.

Kristi's Kids were there when they finished the installation handing over keys to the self closing gate to Sheila and hopefully the key to that license.

It's not a done deal. The state still has to come back and inspect the fence for final approval.
As you know Kristi's Kids are dedicated to swim safety. After all our News 4 Lifesaver program runs 5 months out of the year. But we wanted to know why the state has several extra requirements regarding pool areas in foster homes. These are additional items that the state requires for new homes with a swimming pool.

Here is the response from DES/CPS:

In 2011, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 32 child deaths due to drowning with 75% occurring in swimming pools. As a result, DES adheres to life safety pool fencing requirements detailed in Rule (R6-18-709).

R6-18-709. Pool Requirements
A. For settings with a pool that is deeper than 4 feet, the care provider shall ensure the following safety equipment is available within the pool enclosure:
1. A shepherd's crook attached to a pole; and
2. A ring buoy attached to a rope that measures half the distance across the pool plus 10 feet.
B. A care provider who has a pool on the premises and provides services to a child age 5 and under or to an individual with developmental disabilities:
1. Shall ensure the pool is fenced with an enclosure that meets the following requirements:
a. The exterior side of the fence is at least 5 feet high;
b. If the fence is chain link, the mesh measures less than 1 3/4 inches horizontally;
c. If the fence is constructed of vertical bars or wooden slats, the openings between bars or slats measure less than 4 inches;
d. The exterior side of the fence is free of hand holds or foot holds or other means that could be used to climb over the fence;
e. Gates for the fence are self-closing and self-latching and open out or away from the pool.
f. The gate latch is at least 54" above the ground and is equipped with a key or combination lock.
g. The gate to the enclosure is locked, except when there is an adult within the enclosure to supervise the pool and spa area.
2. Shall ensure the following, if the home or building used to provide care or supervision constitutes part of the enclosure:
a. The enclosure does not interfere with safe egress from the setting.
b. A door from the setting does not open within the pool enclosure.
c. A window from the setting and located in a room that is designated as a bedroom for an individual receiving care is not positioned within the pool enclosure.
d. Other windows from the setting and within the pool enclosure are permanently secured to open no more than 4 inches.

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