An infant was bitten 27 times by a toddler at an unlicensed day care in Texas, and the child care provider allegedly waited several hours to notify the baby's parents -- and only after it became apparent that the bite marks were not going to fade away, USA Today is reporting.
Last Friday, the infant was rushed to the hospital with bite marks all over his body, including on his face, chin, eyes, legs, and abdomen. His parents, identified by the San Antonio Express-News as John and Jeanette Betancourt, claimed that the operator of the child care facility where he was bitten did not notify them about their son's injuries until it became clear to the operator that his wounds were not going to go away on their own.
As of this post, it is unclear what the operator was doing while a toddler in her care was able to bite another child 27 times. The woman told Mrs. Betancourt that she heard the infant crying but didn't think anything was wrong.
Agents from Texas' Child Care Licensing Agency investigated the unnamed child care operator, and determined that she had been illegally operating an unlicensed child care facility out of her home for eight years. The agency ordered her to close down her operation immediately, according to KENS, something which she claims to have done.
When asked if she knew she needed a license to operate the day care, she told a reporter, "At that moment, no. Yesterday, I found out." She also denies the claim that she waited hours to notify the infant's parents, instead insisting that she called them "after a few minutes."
John Betancourt claims that the operator lied to them and claimed that she had a license.
"When we went to her house to do the initial interview and to find out what she had to offer, she showed us that she had a license."However, he failed to follow up and verify the operator's claim, something that he now says he wishes he'd done.
A neighbor told a KENS reporter that he had been taking his daughter to the unlicensed day care for a year and never had any problems; another parent who had her child cared for by the woman also told a reporter that she believes the incident with the bitten infant is "being blown way out of proportion."
While requirements vary from state to state regarding the licensing of in-home day care centers, one trend seems to be apparent, according to a Richmond Times-Dispatch report: children in unlicensed day care centers are five times more likely to die of abuse, neglect, or accidents than children at licensed day care centers.
"At least 51 children died in day care facilities unregulated by Virginia over the past 10 years, compared with only nine in day care operations licensed and regulated by the Virginia Department of Social Service."Child injury lawyer David Wolf explains that the rules and regulations required of licensed day care operators are in place to ensure the children's safety and well-being, and that day care operators who decline to get licensed are out to make a quick buck.
"These child care providers are 'operating in the shadows.' Without any oversight, rules, or regulations, many unlicensed facilities do just what is necessary to convince the parents desperate for child care to part with their hard earned money. While there are some unlicensed facilities and day care centers that happen to do just a fine job, there are so many others that are truly cutting corners and putting the dollar over safety concerns and measures for the children."
As of this post, no criminal charges have been filed against the San Antonio woman in whose unlicensed day care an infant was bitten 27 times, but criminal charges may follow pending the outcome of an investigation.