When children are placed in daycare, parents are putting their trust in the providers to take care of their children as if they are their own. Unfortunately, Minnesota has seen daycare deaths double in the past 10 years.
Early in July, a daycare provider in Oakdale was charged with locking three children in a shed in her backyard. The incident occurred in February 2012.
Jennifer Lynn Goldetsky, 43, took the three children outside without jackets and shoes and locked them in the shed when Washington County licensors made an unexpected visit to check Goldetsky’s compliance.
What they found was that she had more children in her care than what she was licensed to have and took the three children out to the shed in a panic so that she would not get caught having more children than she was supposed to.
While the children that Goldetsky locked in the shed did not suffer any injuries, that has not been the case across Minnesota.
For instance, an infant died while in the care of an Eagan daycare.
In August 2011, Beverly Greenagel laid down a 3-month-old baby down on a blanket in the basement of her home so the baby could nap. Later that afternoon, a 12-yar-old child found the infant face down on the blanket, blood staining the blanket. It was later ruled by a medical examiner that the baby died of asphyxiation.
Jerry Kerber with the Department of Human Services in Minnesota said that there were 51 deaths in licensed daycares from 2007-2011 in the state. All but three of the deaths occurred at in-home daycare facilities rather than the large daycare centers. Most of the deaths are believed to be the result of unsafe sleeping arrangements for infants, as well as compliance violations such as overcrowding.
In the case of Greenagel, it wasn’t the first time that she was found in violation of state laws. She was issued a written reminder in 2002 to remove pillows from infant cribs. In 2007, a social worker saw an infant placed on the floor for a nap. Greenagel was once again reminded of state law. State law states that a licensed daycare provider is to place an infant in a crib on his or her back.
Depending upon how severe the violation is and the provider’s history, licensors can issue a citation or correction order. They may also recommend temporary suspensions, fines, indefinite suspensions, or revoke their license completely. Providers do have the ability to appeal decisions, which is what Greenagel did after the revocation of her license in February 2011.
This brings about the question of whether or not state laws are strong enough.
The Department of Human Services is currently reviewing training requirements for in-home providers and the Department does consult with the Minnesota Sudden Infant Death Center to stay on top of recommendations and has also received a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study all of the infant deaths that occur in the state with more emphasis put on those that occur in child care facilities.
Greenagel is currently being prosecuted by Dakota County for the death of the 3-month-old infant.