Press Releases

Delaware Infant Death Calls Attention to Need for Basic Child Care Health & Safety Training

September 28, 2007

ARLINGTON, VA - Today, the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) issued an appeal to Governors, State Legislators, and Members of Congress to better protect the safety and the very lives, of young children by strengthening the basic health and safety training required of child care workers. Tragically, earlier this week, a 2-month-old infant died at a child care center in Wilmington, Delaware. The exact cause of death is unknown, but the infant was found dead on his stomach in a crib in a child care center.

Training child care providers to put infants to sleep on their backs was among 10 basic health and safety measures that NACCRRA reviewed in its report, We Can Do Better: NACCRRA's Ranking of State Child Care Standards and Oversight, released in March. According to the report, many states are lacking in their training requirements of child care providers and oversight of child care center safety. Twenty-six states do not have a requirement to place babies on their backs to sleep (despite a recommendation to do so from the American Academy of Pediatrics), including: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Wyoming.

"It's always a tragedy when an infant dies. My heart really goes out to both the family of the baby and also the staff working at the center. In the Delaware case, we don't know what happened. We just know that a 2-month-old infant died, and we know that Delaware is not one of the states that requires infants to be placed on their backs to sleep," said Linda K. Smith, Executive Director of NACCRRA. "The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be placed for sleep on their backs, based on research that shows that there is a greater incidence of SIDS-- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome-- when infants are put to sleep on their bellies."

NACCRRA represents over 800 state and local Child Care Resource & Referral agencies throughout the country. Beyond helping parents find child care, these agencies also provide resources and training to parents and to child care providers. Smith said: "We train 500,000 child care providers a year, and one of the most important topics is infant safety. Some parents and caregivers just haven't learned the safest position to avoid SIDS." According to Smith, "that's what makes training so important. Every state should require infants in licensed care to be put on their backs to sleep. It's just not worth the risk."

As reflected in the recent We Can Do Better: NACCRRA's Ranking of State Child Care Center Standards and Oversight, out of 150 possible points, the average state score was a dismal 70 points. Delaware scored 71, ranking twenty-fifth out of all states.

NACCRRA calls on every state to better protect children by requiring all caregivers to obtain training in such basics as first-aid/CPR, basic health and safety practices (including infant sleep positions), and child development, guidance and discipline before caring for children.

According to We Can Do Better, states need to do a better job at setting standards and oversight. Parents want their children to be safe and expect it, particularly in licensed child care. NACCRRA calls on Congress to strengthen the Child Care and Development Block Grant, the primary federal funding stream allocating funds to states for child care, to require stronger minimum safety standards, more oversight, and a minimum training requirement for child care providers. NACCRRA also calls on all states to take action regardless of whether the federal law is strengthened.

"There is no higher priority to NACCRRA than to reauthorize and strengthen the Child Care and Development Block grant law," said Smith. "States are meeting the minimum requirement of the law, the problem is, the law is too weak. We can and should do better for our children."

To learn more about NACCRRA's efforts to strengthen the safety of child care and to access information about We Can Do Better, visit http://www.naccrra.org . To find your local Child Care Resource & Referral agency, visit NACCRRA's Child Care Aware website at http://www.childcareaware.org .