Thursday, September 20, 2007

Claire McCaskill is on the right track!

In 2002, Sen. Claire McCaskill's audit on child-care providers called for sweeping changes in the way day-care facilities are run.

Five years later, has anything changed?

State legislators and day-care advocacy groups say things haven't changed.

"There has not been any legislation or any rule regulations passed," said Andie Schleicher, executive director of the Child Day Care Association in St. Louis. "There have been changes, but nothing has passed. There are a lot of people working on it."

Jeanette Mott Oxford, state representative for the 59th District in St. Louis, is one of those people. She's been working to improve income guidelines for subsidized child care for more than three years.

"Other child-care legislation has been in the works, but it's my understanding that nothing has been done to address the problems the audit pointed out," she said. "Part of the problem is that no House committee is charged with overseeing child-care issues, and I think that's a real shame."

The audit, conducted when McCaskill was the state auditor, said day-care regulations do not adequately limit the number of children allowed in a day-care facility and penalties are too weak to deter providers from breaking the law.

Not only is punishment lacking, according to the audit, but there is no standard criteria for penalizing providers when there has been a violation.

Child care providers are required to be licensed in Missouri if they care for more than four children, according to the audit, but bureau officials suspect there are several thousand unlicensed child care facilities operating in Missouri.

Another problem is that state law allows a licensed family child-care home to care for 10 unrelated children — and an unlimited number of related children.

Brewer said the problem with being allowed to have an unlimited number of related children is that there could be way too many kids at the facility and too few adults.

The death of an infant at an unlicensed day-care facility in Nixa earlier this year brought attention to problems at unlicensed day-care centers.

Police said the 4-month-old died accidentally. However, there were 16 children in the home being supervised by only one adult when the infant died.

The owner was charged with operating a child care facility without a state license and could face up to a year in the Christian County Jail and a maximum $1,000 fine if convicted of the Class A misdemeanor.

Brewer said people should report unlicensed facilities they believe are violating guidelines to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, or talk to the prosecuting attorney in their county.

email Claire McCaskill and let her know you appreciate what she's doing, and ask for a follow up audit on child day cares in Missouri!

Child Protection and Reformation

Chapter 210
Child Protection and Reformation
Section 210.211

August 28, 2006

210.211. 1. It shall be unlawful for any person to establish, maintain or operate a child-care facility for children, or to advertise or hold himself or herself out as being able to perform any of the services as defined in section 210.201, without having in effect a written license granted by the department of health and senior services; except that nothing in sections 210.203 to 210.245 shall apply to:

(1) Any person who is caring for four or fewer children...

Click here to read the entire license requirements.

Audit of Missouri Daycare Standards

Missouri is in severe need of child care regulations!

See the official report (PDF)

...child care providers are required to be licensed in Missouri if they care for more than four unrelated children (WHY does it matter if they're related?). Auditors found bureau officials have not always effectively dealt with unlicensed child care facilities and current state penalties do not deter some providers from operating illegally.

...Unlicensed providers can only be charged with an infraction, which carries a maximum $200 fine for the first violation of state law. The fine has not deterred providers from operating illegally even though some were prosecuted and fined. Statements from providers show how they openly refuse to follow state law: “I do keep more than four non-related children at one time. I plan to continue to do so. I do not want to give the names. I do not want a license.” In addition, fines levied against unlicensed providers are much higher in other states.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Shop for a Cause at Macy's!

On October 13, 2007, Macy’s will celebrate a national day of support for nonprofit organizations in communities nationwide!

When you make a $5 donation to First Candle, you will receive a ticket for 10-20% off on all purchases made that day.

100 percent of your donation will be used to support the research, education, advocacy and grief support services at First Candle.

Click here for the link!

More Media Contacts

Please use the sample letter in this blog to ask for a story from the following:

To submit a story idea to one of the ABC News shows listed below, write a single page letter including your name, phone number, and address. Include photocopies of backup information. On the outside of the envelope, write "Story Idea." If a producer is interested in your story, he/she will contact you. Here are the show addresses:

147 Columbus Avenue
New York, NY 10023

147 Columbus Avenue
New York, NY 10023

Nightline/This Week
1717 DeSales Street NW
Washington, DC 20036

World News With Charles Gibson
47 West 66th Street 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10023

Good Morning America
147 Columbus Avenue
New York, NY 10023

Thursday, September 13, 2007


That is his name! Nathan Jay Blecha. When I met him at the hospital the first thing I said was how smart he looked. He was looking right in my eyes when I held him for the first time, and he looked like a wise old man. In the 3 months that he spent with us, he has taught so many people so much, and changed lives forever.

Day Care Owner Liable In SIDS Death

Day Care Owner Liable In SIDS Death

Please keep in mind this article is over 6 years old, and studies and research would find today that this infant's death was NOT SIDS, rather suffocation due to being laid down for sleep on her stomach.

The Hartford Courant
January 31, 2001

A jury deliberated less than two hours Tuesday before awarding $800,000 to a woman whose daughter died of sudden infant death syndrome two years ago at a day care center in Bolton.

In one of the first judgments of its kind in the state, the six-member jury found the day care owner liable in the death of Shelby LePage because she failed to take steps that might have prevented the child's death.

The attorney for Shelby's mother had argued that Barbara Horne, the owner of Barbara's Day Care, allowed the infant to sleep on her stomach on Dec. 8, 1998, even though she knew that particular sleeping position was associated with a higher risk of SIDS. Shelby was between two and 12 times more likely to die of SIDS as a result, LePage's attorney, Gerald S. Sack, said.

After the verdict in the wrongful death case was read at Rockville Superior Court, a relieved Mary LePage said the case sends an important message to day care providers, who, she said, have been slower than parents to grasp the significance of sleeping position. LePage, who took the stand during four days of testimony, said the trial was emotionally difficult but important for that message.

"If this information getting out saves the life of one child, then it was worth it," she said.

LePage, of Coventry, waited 74 days after Shelby's birth to return to her job at a printing company in Norwich. The next day, Shelby's second at the day care center, LePage got a phone call. For her, every new parent's worst fear had come true.

Police investigated, as did state child-service workers. A pathologist from the state medical examiner's office ruled that Shelby died of SIDS and classified the manner of death as natural, rejecting such options as homicide or accident.

No action was taken against Horne or her day care program -until LePage filed the wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of her daughter's estate.

After the verdict, Horne shook her head and stared into an empty corner. She walked from the courtroom red-eyed and stunned.

"It's not fair," she said as her attorney, Jay Melley, rushed to her side. "It was natural causes. It's not fair."

Melley had argued that experts have conflicting opinions about the link between sleeping position and the poorly understood syndrome that took Shelby's life.

"It's a curveball from nature," he told the jury. "It happens without explanation."

After the verdict, Melley declined comment and would not say whether he would appeal.

Although similar actions have been brought in other states, William J. Sweeney, past president of the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association, said he knew of no such cases in this state.

"I certainly know of people who have thought of bringing one," Sweeney said, "but most people think it's a pretty tough case to win" because of the sudden nature of the syndrome.

Sweeney said one of the issues that vexes such claims, and one that he believed probably will be raised on appeal, is whether the defendant should have been able to foresee the danger of a syndrome that strikes so suddenly and, often, without warning.

The verdict came just hours after Dr. Ira Kanfer told the jury that SIDS can occur to a child in any position, even "in the arms of a mother." Kanfer, the defense's sole witness, was the medical examiner who conducted an autopsy on Shelby

"Since no one knows what causes SIDS, the fact that the infant was placed on its side and then found dead on its stomach is just irrelevant," Kanfer testified.

But the plaintiff's expert witness, Dr. Herbert Scherzer, told the jury the sleeping position contributed to the death.

"The chance of her dying on the day she died was tremendously increased because she was lying prone," he testified.

In his summation, Sack said Horne had testified that she knew of the link but simply was not considering it at the time.

"When you accept a vulnerable infant into your home," he said, "you should be thinking about SIDS."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

We are featured on Channel 5

Wow! This is great! We are KSDK's Channel 5 Website of the Day! Click here to check it out!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Sample Letter to the Media

I've attached a sample letter to the media that you can easily cut and paste into your emails and letters when you are requesting a story on SIDS, safe sleep practices, and SIDS Awareness Month. Here you go:


City, state, zip

Dear _________,

I am writing to request that you allocate news coverage time during the month of October to the issue of sudden infant death. October is SIDS, Pregnancy and Infant loss Awareness month. We would appreciate any public awareness that your station could assist in bringing to this tragedy.

Each year in the United States, nearly 2,500 babies will succumb to SIDS. This devastating tragedy strikes without warning and often affects babies who otherwise appear to be healthy.

There is also critical risk reduction information that the community needs to be aware of and/or reminded of. Media coverage of this information helps to provide consistency in reminding new parents and all those who care for infants of the ways to reduce the risk of infant death.

(Insert any part of your story that you feel comfortable sharing).

I would also like to let you know that SIDS Resources is a non profit organization which provides support to families affected by the tragedy of sudden infant death as well as public and professional education regarding how to reduce the risk for infant death.

A representative from this organization would be available to answer any questions you may have to supplement your coverage. Please contact Lori at 800-421-3511 or 314-822-2323 to request additional information from SIDS Resources.

Thank you for your time and attention to this request. Please feel free to call me (if you feel comfortable with this) or SIDS Resources if you have any questions.



Your Name

Saturday, September 8, 2007

I hate that we have this in common...

Hey everyone,
I just wanted to share with you the my inspiration for starting this blog. A friend of mine from high school started a blog about his youngest child that was diagnosed with cancer. Please take a minute and check out his blog:

And, please keep little Andy in your thoughts and prayers!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Help Us! Tell the Media!

October is SIDS Awareness Month!
Please take a moment to contact the St. Louis media to tell them your story about how SIDS has touched your life. SIDS and safe sleep practices needs MUCH more attention than it gets. By spreading the word we are saving lives!

Please be specific and ask for a feature on SIDS, Safe Sleep Practices for Infants, and SIDS Awareness Month (October).

Knowledge and education can prevent tragedies like the one that took my nephew's life. Please copy and paste this information and email to everyone in your contact list! The more requests made for a story the more likely it is we will get one!

Channel 2
Website Contact

Betsy Bruce

Channel 4
Channel 4 email:
Channel 4 ph: (314) 444-3344

Please also mention how SIDS Resources in St. Louis could benefit by a feature in "News 4 Angels"

Channel 5
Channel 5 email:
Channel 5 ph: 314-444-5126

Kay Quinn

Wendy Erikson

Channel 11
Channel 11 email:
Channel 11 ph: 314-447-6340

St. Louis Post Dispatch email: and St. Louis Post Dispatch ph: 314-340-8000

St. Louis Post Dispatch email:

Suburban Journal ph: 314.821-1110

Jefferson County Journal
ph: 636-931-6636

Kevin Carbery

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Bereaved Parents Wish List

My Sister in Law shared this with me, it's very insightful:

Bereaved Parents Wish List

1. I wish my child hadn't died. I wish I had him back.

2. I wish you wouldn't be afraid to speak my child's name. My child lived and was very important to me. I need to hear that he was important to you also.

3. If I cry and get emotional when you talk about my child I wish you knew that it isn't because you have hurt me. My child's death is the cause of my tears. You have talked about my child, and you have allowed me to share my grief. I thank you for both.

4. I wish you wouldn't "kill" my child again by removing his pictures, artwork, or other remembrances from your home.

5. Being a bereaved parent is not contagious, so I wish you wouldn't shy away from me. I need you now more than ever.

6. I need diversions, so I do want to hear about you; but, I also want you to hear about me. I might be sad and I might cry, but I wish you would let me talk about my child, my favorite topic of the day.

7. I know that you think of and pray for me often. I also know that my child's death pains you, too. I wish you would let me know those things through a phone call, a card or note, or a real big hug.

8. I wish you wouldn't expect my grief to be over in six months. These first months are traumatic for me, but I wish you could understand that my grief will never be over. I will suffer the death of my child until the day I die.

9. I am working very hard in my recovery, but I wish you could understand that I will never fully recover. I will always miss my child, and I will always grieve that he is dead.

10. I wish you wouldn't expect me "not to think about it" or to "be happy." Neither will happen for a very long time, so don't frustrate yourself.

11. I don't want to have a "pity party," but I do wish you would let me grieve. I must hurt before I can heal.

12. I wish you understood how my life has shattered. I know it is miserable for you to be around me when I'm feeling miserable. Please be as patient with me as I am with you.

13. When I say "I'm doing okay," I wish you could understand that I don't "feel" okay and that I struggle daily.

14. I wish you knew that all of the grief reactions I'm having are very normal. Depression, anger, hopelessness and overwhelming sadness are all to be expected. So please excuse me when I'm quiet and withdrawn or irritable and cranky.

15. Your advice to "take one day at a time" is excellent advice. However, a day is too much and too fast for me right now. I wish you could understand that I'm doing good to handle an hour at a time.

16. Please excuse me if I seem rude, certainly not my intent. Sometimes the world around me goes too fast and I need to get off. When I walk away, I wish you would let me find a quiet place to spend time alone.

17. I wish you understood that grief changes people. When my child died, a big part of me died with him. I am not the same person I was before my child died, and I will never be that person again.

18. I wish very much that you could understand; understand my loss and my grief, my silence and my tears, my void and my pain. BUT I pray daily that you will never understand.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Do it the right way!

Are you considering starting, or do you already run a day care out of your home? If so, please do it the right, ethical way, even if you only watch or plan to watch a few kids. People are putting their children's lives in your hands! Please visit the Child Day Care Association of St. Louis' website at:
ph: 314.531.1412

And, they've got this handy little check list that makes it really easy to know if you're doing things the safe, legal, and healthy way! Check it out!

You can also contact SIDS Resources, who provides FREE training to child care providers throughout the state of Missouri to teach about safe sleep and developing safe sleep policies.

And finally, please give your insurance agent a call to make sure those precious little ones are insured while under your supervision!

U.S. Infant Mortality Rates

Did you know...
The US has infant mortality rates higher than 27 other developed nations. There is much work to be done. To find out how you can support the important effort to prevent infant deaths, visit, or call 800-221-7437, or email:

This info comes from
"As the nation’s leading organization dedicated to infant health and survival, First Candle is working to ensure that every baby is provided the best possible chance to celebrate not only their first birthday, but many happy birthday’s beyond. According to Dr. Marian Sokol, president of First Candle, the Caucus is critical to the organization’s mission. “If we are to reach our goal of a future where all babies survive and thrive, we must enlist the help of all those interested in the health and well-being of our nation’s most precious commodity . . . our children, our future,” said Sokol."

In Memory Of...

Thank you to those of you that made a donation to the Cancer Society in memory of my nephew. Here's the link to the list of "in memory of" donations. His name is on the last page.
Site Meter