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Mark Bello
Mark Bello
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Florida Law Could Have Prevented Preschooler’s Death

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A four-year-old was ready to attend preschool in one week, but until then, his mother placed him in an in-home day care center. Sadly, the child died at the hands of those who were to care for him.

When the daycare owner expected a visit by state investigators, she asked her 18-year-old daughter to take seven children across town to an apartment complex because she was operating the in-home facility over-capacity. Four-year-old Jordan fell asleep and was left in the hot vehicle for at least two hours, resulting in his death. The daycare has been ordered to remain closed until an investigation is complete.

Overcrowded daycares have been a growing problem especially among in-home facilities. Some providers ignore capacity rules because more children means more money. Others feel the need to help out parents who want to keep siblings together or need unexpected child care. Detecting these violations is difficult because state inspections are typically conducted once every one or two year, unless there is a complaint filed. In many cases, the inspections take place in the same month as the prior inspection allowing providers to prepare by removing or hiding children. Yes, some daycare workers will actually hide children in the facility when the inspectors arrived. A Minnesota daycare owner placed a baby in a bouncy seat with a propped up bottle and placed her in a closet to hide the number of infants in the home to avoid a fine.

Jordan’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the 3C's Day Academy but, this lawsuit is about more than overcrowded daycares; it is also brings to light the dangers of leaving children in cars. The family believes the child would be alive today if a bill proposed by Senator Maria Sachs (D), was not vetoed by the state legislators. The proposal, following the death of a two-year-old who was found lifeless after left in a daycare van for more than five hours, would have required all licensed daycares to install a $10 warning alarm in all vans. Is that too much to ask of daycares we entrust with our children’s lives?

Obviously, there is not substitute for attentiveness; we can’t rely on alarms and other technological gadgets. What if it fails; what if the battery dies? According to the National Safety Council, infants and young children left inside a vehicle can die of hyperthermia in a few hours, even when the temperature outside is not especially hot. Only with increased awareness can we prevent these tragedies. Janette Fennell is the founder and president of KidsAndCars.org, a safety advocacy group, is doing just that by promoting the highest level of awareness among parents, caregivers, and the public with safety messages to help keep kids safe in or around motor vehicles.

How many more fatal stories must we read about children being left alone in cars? Bottom line: Vigilance is the best way to prevent these tragedies. For more information, visit kidsandcars.org.

1 Comment

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  1. Gerry McGill says:
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    Mark, I am not familiar with the $10 alarm. Can you provide more info?