MAPLEWOOD, Mo. — Children in cribs made to be like cages and an empty box of wine were found inside the unlicensed daycare facility where a three-month-old baby died in Maplewood last month, according to a search warrant obtained by 5 On Your Side.
On Nov. 16, emergency crews responded to a 911 call for cardiac arrest at a home in the 3600 block of Cambridge Avenue. Fire officials found a baby girl lifeless and cool to the touch, the search warrant stated. The infant was rushed to Children's Hospital, but all efforts to save her life were unsuccessful.
Police said the woman inside the home was acting hysterical and they could smell alcohol on her breath.
The woman--who is not being named at this time because she has not been charged--told police the baby rolled onto her face and stopped breathing. She said the child had done that multiple times that day.
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When asked if there were other children inside the home, the woman said there was one more child upstairs. Officers found the child in a play pen with a blanket on top. There also was heavy-duty plastic shelving on top of the blanket to keep the child from escaping, police said in their search warrant.
Police continued to find more children in the house, despite the woman saying there were no other kids.
The children were on three different levels of the home in separate rooms, police said. They were all in play pens with items on top of them or surrounding them, to keep the toddlers from getting out, police stated.
In all, seven children ages 2 to 4 were found inside the house. Police called it an unlicensed daycare.
An empty wine box was found in a trashcan, officers said.
Police used the information of what they witnessed inside the home--along with what they said was the smell of alcohol on her breath--to obtain a search warrant to get a blood sample.
The search warrant was granted that same evening.
The investigation is ongoing and no charges have been filed at this time.
5 On Your Side spoke with ChildCare Aware of Missouri, a non-profit organization that helps parents research childcare options. Executive Director Robin Phillips encourages parents to look into whether the childcare providers have gone through background checks.
“What kind of training and knowledge are they getting? Do they understand safe sleep, first aid practices and CPR?” Phillips said.
Phillips said once parents have selected a childcare provider, they should continue to follow up and ask questions.
“Most importantly, you have to build a relationship with that person who’s going to be watching your child six, eight, 10 hours a day. You have to go in announced and you have to go in unannounced. You have to see what’s happening.”
For more information and resources, call 866-892-3228 or visit mo.childcareaware.org.