ADVERTISEMENT

Day-care provider Janelle Rutzen was in tears Thursday as she talked about finding an 8-month-old boy unresponsive in his crib on Wednesday. The boy died despite efforts of Rutzen, her daughter, Kari Rutzen, and 911 responders.

Richard Sennott, Star Tribune

Napping baby dies at Coon Rapids home day care

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH and PAUL LEVY
  • Star Tribune s taff w riters
  • February 16, 2012 - 9:11 PM

An 8-month-old boy died at a Coon Rapids home day care despite the desperate efforts of the providers to save a child they thought was napping, authorities said Thursday.

The child was set down for a nap about 1:15 p.m. Wednesday at the home in the 10600 block of Drake Street, said Anoka County Sheriff's Cmdr. Paul Sommer. When the provider went to the child's crib to awaken him about 3 p.m., he didn't appear to be breathing, Sommer said.

"That's the time I wake everybody up," said Janelle Rutzen, 50, who said there were 10 children at the day care she's been operating for 25 years. "He's been coming here since August," she said of the baby. "There's never been a problem."

But this time, he did not respond. Rutzen said she raced up the stairs with the baby in her arms, screaming for her daughter, Kari Rutzen, 29, to call 911. After calling, Kari Rutzen tried to give CPR to the child, her mother said.

Paramedics arrived within three or four minutes and attempted to revive the boy, the Rutzens said. He was taken to Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids, where he was pronounced dead, Sommer added.

There were "no signs of trauma or abuse," he said. The Anoka County Medical Examiner's office said autopsy results are pending, but did say through spokeswoman Martha Weaver that there were no signs of injuries.

"We have opened a case on the incident, but there is nothing that leads us to believe there is any foul play involved," Sommer said.

While not suggesting to know the cause of death, Sommer said that a half-dozen cases of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) are reported in Anoka County each year. The county does not keep statistics of the number of deaths occurring at day cares, he said.

The boy's name was not being released by the Anoka County Medical Examiner's office, at the request of his parents.

Janelle and Kari Rutzen, who contacted county licensing officials after the child's death, are cooperating with the investigation, Sommer said.

While no action has been taken against the day care in the aftermath of the death, Janelle Rutzen said Thursday that she decided to close for the day.

The boy was the youngest of 10 children ages 8 months to 5 years who were at the Rutzen home Wednesday, Janelle Rutzen said.

"This is the first thing that's ever happened like that," she said. "I've never even had anyone get hurt."

She said she began providing day care more than 20 years ago because "I like kids. It's a good way to make a living."

According to state licensing records, the Rutzen day care is approved for a maximum of 14 children, with a limit of three infants at any one time. Its license was initially granted in 1991. The state's licensing website, which lists disciplinary actions since July 2010, showed no citations against the Rutzens' day care.

In the past five years in Minnesota, there have been 47 deaths reported at licensed child-care facilities run from homes and two in child-care centers, according to figures compiled by the state Department of Human Services.

Child-care costs

There are 11,500 licensed home-based child-care settings in Minnesota, with a capacity to serve 131,000 children, according to state records. There are 1,600 licensed child-care centers in the state that can care for as many as 103,000 children.

Licensed family child-care services are attractive for some parents because of the high cost of center-based care, especially for infants.

No state has a greater difference between its median cost for infant care in a center ($12,900 annually) and the cost in a licensed family day care ($7,350), according to 2011 data from the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies. Stringent state training and staff ratio requirements for centers are responsible for much of that difference.

A 2009 state survey of parents using child-care arrangements found that one-quarter placed their infants in licensed centers while another quarter used licensed family day cares. The rest used informal arrangements such as grandparents or neighbors.

Star Tribune staff writer Jeremy Olson contributed to this report. plevy@startribune.com • 612-673-4419 pwalsh@startribune.com • 612-673-4482

© 2014 Star Tribune