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Earlier this month, an unlicensed day care provider in Troy, Missouri was charged in the death of an infant who died while in her care. According to reports, the four-month-old baby died of probable suffocation after being put down to nap on a loosely covered, queen-sized bed. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that at the time of the death, the woman was being paid to care for eight children in her home, plus she had two children of her own with her. Under state law, that exceeds the number of children that unlicensed daycare providers can have at one time. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark spoke with an expert to find out what questions parents should ask before putting their children in someone else's care.
Under Missouri law, there are several different classifications of licensed childcare facilities A daycare “center,” whether it be a local facility, or a franchised business, has to be completely licensed according to state regulations. Other childcare providers operate out of their homes. These businesses are required to be licensed if they are caring for more than four children who are not related to them. A third category is a childcare provider that operates out of a school district or faith-based facility. These providers do have to meet some of the state requirements, like health, safety, fire and sanitation rules. But they don’t have to regulate the number of kids in the group, nor the number of adults who are with them.
Now that you know the state laws, meet Carol Scott. She's the CEO at Child Care Aware of Missouri, which is a trademarked resource for finding information on child care facilities.
First, she has some advice for anyone who wants to start a childcare business.
“You, as the owner and all the other people that work with the children, should have some training and education. It is not like being a parent. It is not the same job, if you will. It really does require that you learn something about being with groups of children.”
She says that includes learning how to protect the children by receiving CPR and First-Aid training and understanding safe sleep practices. She also recommends providing helpful, educational stimulation for each child.
Also, before any adult hands over their child to a care provider, especially one operating out of a home, Scott says there are a couple of things every parent should ask.
"The first thing is just to ask the basic question, ‘Are you licensed?’ The next question should be about, ‘How many children are attending this program right now? How many of those children are related to you?’ Because if they have still four or fewer unrelated, if they are within the law, what if they have ten related children? That makes a group size of fourteen, which would not be allowed in a licensed facility.”
Scott also says parents should find out who, other than the caregiver, will be in the house during the caregiving time. Also, parents should be aware of how much education the caregiver has gone through. She says to always ask for references.
“If they had even a minimal amount of training—I’m not talking about a college degree here,
I’m talking about forty hours of introductory training—if people just had the basic introductory information, we would prevent a lot of harm, and we would have children also much more ready for school in this state then we do right now.”
Scott says that over the last few years, 41 out of 45 infant deaths within family childcare homes happened under an unlicensed caregiver.
For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.