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Child Advocate Report Examines Historic Cluster of Child Deaths in Day Care Settings

Posted on behalf of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Dec 20, 2018 in Personal Injury

empty day care centerBetween the spring of 2016 and fall of 2017, nine children died in home-based child care settings, marking the highest number of child care center deaths in Connecticut in more than 20 years, according to a new report from the Office of the Child Advocate (OCA).

The OCA conducted a review of general practices of the Office of Early Childhood (OEC) in response to the deaths of four infants in 2016 – the infants were enrolled in both licensed and unlicensed child care settings. During that review, the OCA and the State Child Fatality Review Panel were informed of five additional infant and toddler deaths that occurred in illegal and licensed home-based child care settings.

Six of the nine victims were being cared for by unlicensed providers. These children were at much greater risk of harm because these providers did not have to pass background checks for criminal and child-abuse charges. Their homes did not have to pass safety checks either.

Licensed providers have to follow OEC regulations, which cover things like cleanliness, fire safety, weapon storage, safe play spaces and first aid supplies. These providers must also maintain a clean, safe and developmentally appropriate environment for the children. Anyone in Connecticut who cares for a child for more than three hours per day must have a license from the OEC. 

Causes of Death

The nine children died in ways consistent with general information about child fatalities in Connecticut, including death from:

  • Unsafe sleeping conditions
  • Medication toxicity
  • Blunt force trauma
  • A range of other causes that may have been preventable

The OCA report recommends strengthening Connecticut's public health campaign to help prevent deaths from unsafe sleep, homicide, accidental injuries and ingestion injuries.

Why Some Parents Choose Unlicensed Child Care Providers

The OCA’s report is urging regulators to find out why parents use unlicensed child care providers, since they lack safeguards that can help prevent harm to children.

The OCA says the trend of low-income parents putting children in unlicensed facilities may be due to cuts in the childcare subsidy Care4Kids, a government-funded program that provides financial support to low-income families for child care costs.

The state-run program enables parents to select a licensed child care provider for their children under the age of 13. However, the program closed to new enrollees in August 2016. As a result, many low-income parents lost access to quality child care services and turned to unlicensed child care providers that cost less, according to the OCA.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to shut down these illegal, unlicensed providers. Unless the state receives a complaint against a specific unlicensed child care provider and can confirm the activity, the unlicensed provider can continue to operate.

Contact D’Amico & Pettinicchi for a Free Consultation

The infant deaths mentioned in the OCA’s report may have been preventable and may have resulted from the child care provider’s negligence. If your child was harmed or died due to a child care provider's negligence, you may have legal options.

D’Amico & Pettinicchi’s compassionate personal injury lawyers in New Haven understand the difficulties families face after the death of a loved one. We provide free, no obligation consultations where we review your claim and help you determine if you have a case against the at-fault party. All of our services are provided on a contingency fee basis and we only charge our clients if we help them recover compensation.

Call (866) 848-7077 today to schedule a free consultation.