Parents in South Carolina are working hard to pay their bills and take care of their families. Federal data tells us in most U.S. families, all the adults work. Fewer than 1 in 3 children have a full-time, stay-at-home parent. In order for that to be possible, families must entrust their young children to other caregivers. Often, that is a day care facility.
Approximately 11 million children are in non-relative child care programs across the country. Although many of these places are well-run, too often, daycare injuries result in hospitalization, long-term recovery, disability and death. Part of the issue had long been a lack of oversight. This is one area at least we can say in which South Carolina has greatly improved in recent years. Unfortunately, it took a horrific case of abuse and murder to spur those changes.
It’s been more than 20 years since the operator of a private home daycare in Irmo was investigated for the deaths of two babies in the injury of a third. A case was filed against the woman in 1993, and she was eventually sentenced to prison for life. Horrific as the case was, it forced the state to confront systemic regulatory failures of in-home day cares. It also exposed problems with how social workers and police investigated child injuries and deaths and how pathologists determined whether those injuries/ deaths were natural or the result of a crime. These changes have helped to improve safety for South Carolina’s children, though parents and loved ones still need to remain vigilant. Even where daycare workers do not intentionally harm children, acts of negligence (i.e., failure to supervise, failure to properly feed, failure to maintain playground equipment, etc.) can have the same tragic effect. Continue reading