Fatality Rates Are Nearly Three Times Higher in Unlicensed Virginia Daycare Facilities Than Licensed Facilities

By: Allan M. Siegel

In the 1960's the Commonwealth of Virginia ran a highly regulated daycare system. Every person caring for an unrelated child was required to obtain a license through Virginia's social services system. This rule was relaxed in the 1970's as women in Virginia began entering the workforce in great numbers. Under the current rule, a person can watch up to five children in their home without obtaining a license. There is presently no system in place to ensure that people follow the five child limit. Social services cannot even begin an investigation until a complaint has been filed or charges brought by police. In contract, in a licensed daycare, every provider must pass a criminal background check, pass two in-home inspections each year, CPR and safety training must be updated every two years, and the providers are trained through a comprehensive 120 page manual.Daycare Injury Lawyer

When you compare the fatality rates since 2004, you can see the benefit of these regulations. Since 2004, forty-three children died in unlicensed daycare facilities compared to only seventeen in licensed facilities. The fatality review program manager for the medical examiner's office, Virginia Powell, says that, "so much of infant child death is both premature and preventable." The official review found that of the forty-three deaths ten cases involved physical abuse, twenty-two were sleep related incidents, three were accidents, and one case was the result of natural causes. State officials believe the sleep related deaths to be the most preventable.

Licensed facilities are trained to remove all loose bedding, pillows, and stuffed animals. The child is placed on their back with only a light blanket, and are physically checked every fifteen minutes or watched even more frequently through a baby monitor. In 2010, Andy Ngo, age one, was improperly swaddled and left alone for forty-five minutes on a queen sized bed surrounded by pillows. He suffocated and could not be revived. Similarly, in 2012 Teagan Sample, who was just ten weeks old, was placed in a windowless basement with ten other babies in cribs. She also suffocated and could not be revived. The common thread among these types of deaths is that the facilities are breaking the only rule that applies to unlicensed providers, to only care for five children at a time.

In the home where Any Ngo was being cared for the provider was caring for ten children at the time of his death. In the home where Teagan Sample was being cared for the police found twenty-three children in the home with toddlers roaming the hallways aimlessly and babies sitting alone on couches. The demand for daycare providers, however, is much greater than the supply. Virginia currently has licensed providers who are able to care for approximately 364,000 children, but the demand is nearly double that amount. Many people are against regulation for these providers, who are often stay-at-home moms or retired grandmothers. The motives of these unlicensed providers are often altruistic. They choose to provide daycare services because they love children and enjoy caring for them, but the appalling death rate that results from of a lack of official training should be motive enough to implement more regulations. Arlington County, Fairfax County, and the City of Alexandria have all created their own much tighter regulations to protect the children in their daycare facilities, and have seen fatality rates fall. It is time for the rest of Virginia to adopt these regulations statewide.

At CSCS, we have fought for children who have been injured at the hands of negligent daycare providers. We understand how these cases must be handled in order to receive just compensation for what may be life-long injuries. If a child you love has been hurt by a negligent daycare provider, please call us for a free evaluation of your case.