04162014Headline:

Norfolk, Portsmouth & Hampton, Virginia

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Kevin Duffan
Kevin Duffan
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Daycare provider charged in baby's death

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Injury to Children in Daycare
Many parents would love to spend the entire day with their young children. Work or other commitments, however, often make that desire unrealistic. As a result, countless parents decide to place their children in daycare. Those parents do so with the intention of picking up a happy and healthy child at the end of the day. Unfortunately, not all daycare operations run smoothly. Instead, the recurrence of injury to children in daycare is a real problem. A Virginia family found that out the hard way, suffering a terrible tragedy last May.

Investigation Details
A Norfolk Church daycare may be shut down by the Department of Social Services after the death of a 7-week old last May at Bethel Temple Church of Deliverance off Little Creek Road. Following the young baby’s death, the DSS sent a "notice of intent to revoke exemption" to Bethel Temple. A state investigation revealed that there was only one person watching over ten infants at the church. That ratio is alarming because the church was not even close to the state mandate. The state mandates a ratio of one adult for every four infants. The church has appealed the order.

Daycare Selection Process
Despite the problems revealed by the investigation, the victim’s family thought the child was in good hands. In fact, the victim’s mother chose Bethel after receiving recommendations from friends and visiting the center herself. That is why she was so shocked when she received the horrific news.

She said, "They’re a church, you know. I trusted because it’s a church and I figured they’re good whole people."

But the fact that the center was at a church may have contributed to the problem. That is because religious daycares are not required to get a state license. They’re inspected only if someone files a complaint.

Charges Filed
The daycare’s actions are not going unpunished. A daycare provider and two other women are facing charges following the child’s death. The provider is charged with homicide and child cruelty/neglect/abuse. The other two women each face a felony child cruelty/neglect/abuse charges. All three remain in jail.

Conclusion

The victim’s mother was devastated and had this to say about the memory of her child, “I could go to work, have a bad day, and come back home and look at him and everything was perfect again."

Some parents may have no choice other than to opt for daycare for their child. Daycare options, however, are not something to be taken lightly. In this case, the victim’s mother appeared to do her due diligence prior to selecting a daycare, yet she still suffered immeasurable devastation. But she did the right thing by investigating the center. Other parents would be wise to take the same step. The real problem lies within the management of the daycare center. Daycare centers need to make a concerted effort to dramatically improve their safety measures or we will continue to see a recurrence of the devastation in Norfolk. Small changes are not enough. In order for safety to improve, serious preventive measures need to be taken.