3-month-old boy dies in Farmington day care

  • Article by: BRAD SCHRADE
  • Star Tribune
  • August 2, 2012 - 8:41 PM

Minnesota regulators have suspended the license of a Dakota County day-care provider after an infant died in her care on Tuesday.

It was the eighth death this year in a licensed child-care facility -- all of them at small in-home facilities, which have seen a spike in deaths since 2007.

The 3-month-old boy was unresponsive and not breathing when authorities in Farmington received a 911 call Tuesday afternoon.

There was no evidence to indicate abuse, but police are not releasing details while they continue their inquiry, said Sgt. Lee Hollatz, head of investigations for the Farmington Police. The provider, Rebecca Lynn Wilson, called the death "devastating" but declined to comment further.

A temporary immediate license suspension is the strongest licensing action the state can take against a licensed child care operator, but it doesn't indicate the provider is at fault in the child's death. Typically, such suspensions are issued if regulators find some rule violation or irregularity that raises concern about a safety risk for children.

"It's the most serious action we can take against a license, in that the provider is shut down immediately with the appeal rights to follow," said Jerry Kerber, inspector general of the state Department of Human Services. Kerber said agency officials are reviewing a change to the state's public records laws so they can release additional information in cases where they take such actions.

Dakota County officials say they did not issue any correction orders -- actions requiring the provider to correct problems -- in connection with the case. Wilson did not say whether she would pursue her right to appeal the temporary suspension.

Wilson has been licensed since 1997 and was investigated in 2005 for a complaint alleging a capacity violation. She was licensed to care for 12 children, but had 14 in her care on a morning that September, according to a correction order issued in that case. She also had two reported injuries to children since 2001, but neither of those investigations revealed licensing violations.

Other correction orders in Wilson's file date back more than a decade and involve toxic or hazardous items within reach of children or a water heater that was not properly blocked off from children.

More than 50 children have died in licensed child-care facilities since 2007, nearly double the number who died the previous five years, according to a Star Tribune investigation. The deaths have been concentrated at in-home day cares, rather than large child-care centers, and many have involved infants who were sleeping.

The state has responded by promising tougher enforcement for safe-sleep violations and a review of deaths in the past five years to search for patterns that can help lead to safety improvements.

Brad Schrade • 612-673-4777

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