CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The circumstances surrounding the death of a three-month-old baby at a home daycare in Chesterfield are still unknown, although it does appear the daycare was operating without a license as there is no record on the Department of Social Services website for the business.
“It’s heartbreaking to find out of another infant dying in an unlicensed daycare,” said parent Jaci Allen, whose 1-year-old son, Joseph, died in a home daycare fire in 2014.
J. Allen and her husband, Matt, said their provider was unlicensed and had too many kids under Virginia law. The owner was charged with a misdemeanor.
The Allens helped pass Joseph’s Law, making it a felony if a child is hurt or killed while in the care of an unlicensed daycare provider.
“We want to help prevent any tragedies like ours from happening,” M. Allen explained.
In addition, lawmakers changed the threshold of requiring a license from having five or more kids to four or more in one’s care, but some would like to see that number lowered so that more at-home daycares will have to get licenses.
“The training that comes with a license is what can prevent a tragedy to occur,” J. Allen said.
“We’ve had over 60 deaths in the last 10 years,” explained Sharon Veatch with Childcare Aware of Virginia.
Veatch says there isn’t enough oversight when it comes to at home daycares. She says the rate of deaths at unlicensed daycares far outnumber those at licensed ones.
“There are certain basic health and safety standards that are required of licensed programs,” Veatch said.
She and the Allens are hoping lawmakers will pass even stricter rules for unlicensed daycares next session.