A tragedy occurred yesterday much too close for comfort. My friend and co-worker came home after work to find that a two year old girl drowned in the pool at the in-home daycare next door. I'm not going to get into all the details because it's not my story to tell but I do know this: the woman was watching far too many children to keep tabs on all of them (TEN!), she wasn't licensed by the state to run a daycare, she has personal/home issues, and she's already been/being investigated by DCFS for another issue. The article in the paper said that the latch on the gate to the pool was broken and the little girl got inside and into the pool. The woman didn't notice she was gone until it was too late. I...I don't even know what to say.
I feel terribly for the family who lost their daughter in this tragedy. She was TWO. Noah was two just two weeks ago. I can't imagine losing him. I can't imagine losing him EVER, but at TWO? Forget it. It makes me shake even thinking about it. This tragedy (and I refuse to call it an accident because this woman put these children in harm's way by taking in too many kids and keeping them in an unsafe environment) brings up another issue as well: how do you know the caregiver/daycare/childcare facility you choose for your child while you work is safe? Each day I give to our preschool my child, my HEART, to protect and I pray to all the gods that he is returned every afternoon as safe as can be. There are no guarantees, this I understand. However, I hope that my gut and my maternal instinct prevail, guiding me to the right place and best decision for my son, for my family. I trust his caregivers to keep him safe and happy even though there will always be a small (read: very large, huge, giant) part of me that worries all day long.
It's stories like this that reinforce the idea behind state licensing and making sure DCFS and its ilk are doing their jobs. I don't think all in-home daycares are bad places and many, MANY, are run by skilled caregivers with the proper licensing and clean records. However, it's places like this one that make me want to scoop up my kid, run home, and never let him out of my sight. Not rational, I understand, but true.
To the family that lost their baby yesterday: I am so, so sorry. May you find peace someday and keep the memories of your little girl in your hearts always.
To the woman who runs the daycare: it's people like you who put fear in the hearts of parents. May you realize the irrevocable damage you have caused to one family and may you pay for this tragedy the rest of your life.