CLEVELAND — After the death of a baby, the 5 On Your Side Investigators launched a five-month investigation to see how often serious incidents at daycare centers go unreported.
Watch Sarah Buduson’s initial report at 6 a.m., followed by the full investigation at 11 p.m. on News 5.
On a sunny June day, Taylor Bush was in a pinch. She needed childcare for her two-month-old daughter, Di’Yanni.
She was relieved when her neighbor, Danielle Townsend, agreed to take Di’Yanni for the day at Nana’s Home Daycare on Giddings Road in Cleveland.
But just hours later, when Taylor returned for her baby, Di’Yanni wasn’t breathing.
“I’m still feeling like I just want to wake up and this will be a dream,” she said just days after her daughter’s death.
Taylor called 911 and attempted CPR on her lifeless child. By the time the ambulance arrived it was too late .
“I begged the hospital to keep working on her because they already pronounced her dead. I begged them to keep working on my baby,” she said.
The coroner would later rule that Di’Yanni died from pneumonia.
As required by law, the daycare should have immediately reported her death to the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services.
But nobody did.
How many incidents go unreported? The 5 On Your Side Investigators wanted to find out.
To get a snapshot, we used Ohio’s open record act to request hundreds of thousands of police, fire and ambulance calls from every municipality in Cuyahoga County.
After combing through call logs from 50 different agencies, we found 244 emergency calls from licensed daycare centers that were not reported and likely should have been in fiscal year 2019.
For some perspective on just how many unreported incidents we found, there were only 337 reported incidents to the state during the same time period.
The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services requires all licensed daycare centers report the following serious incidents:
- Death of a child at the program
- A child receives a bump or blow to the head that requires first aid or medical attention
- An incident, injury, or illness requires a child to be removed by the parent or emergency services from the center for medical treatment, professional consultation or transportation for emergency treatment
- An unusual or unexpected incident which jeopardizes the safety of a child or employee of a program
- An incident defined as a serious risk non-compliance
“Agencies need to make it clear this is the next step,” said Dr. Lolita McDavid a professor of pediatrics at Case Western’s School of Medicine and child advocate at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.
“Kids fall and bump all the time, we expect that,” said Dr. McDavid, “But there are certain things that make us more concerned.”
When Danisha Smith’s three-year-old son, King, came home from daycare, he had a broken collarbone.
“When I get ready to put him in the car, I pick him up under his shoulders,” said Smith. “He bust out crying.”
King’s daycare, Dream’s in Heaven on St. Clair Ave., didn’t report the incident to the state. So, Smith went ahead and filed a report herself.
Our data analysis found 911 calls alleging child abuse, child endangerment, even kidnapping, went unreported to the state.
We also found numerous 911 calls for ambulances at daycare centers, including after a baby fell out of a high chair, a call about a two-year-old foaming from the mouth, and a three-year-old who swallowed a rubber band.
The Loving Cup Academy in Shaker Heights called ambulances for children twice without reporting them. Once when a toddler had trouble breathing and again when a baby was jerking and incoherent, according to police dispatch logs.
We went to Loving Cup Academy to ask director Constance Wright why there were no corresponding reports to ODJFS, she said both kids had “low fevers” and she was just being “overly cautious” by calling 911. She said she didn’t think the ambulance calls were “serious enough” to report.
The KinderCare in Solon called police when a toddler was found with marijuana, but the center was cited for failing to properly report the incident to the ODJFS. Despite the citation, KinderCare’s corporate public relations team said in a statement they followed proper protocol but couldn’t get through when they tried to call the state to report the incident.
Scroll through to look at some of the incidents we looked into:
‘It only takes a minute’
Many daycare centers do report serious incidents to the state.
When 3-year-old Ava had her four front teeth knocked out , Kidd’s Preschool Enrichment filed a report with the state. The incident resulted in an investigation of the center and a lawsuit.
For 33-years, Valerie Norris has cared for kids at the Rockport Early Childhood Center in Rocky River.
She says the state’s online system for reporting incidents is “user friendly” and “only takes a minute”.
She reports any bruise or bump that seems serious. In the past year she filed 24 reports.
“I’m going to always err on the side of caution and report,” Norris said.
‘They’re trusting us’
We showed Norris the unreported incidents we found at daycare centers around the county.
“That would be stunning to me that those events wouldn’t be reported to the state,” she said.
“These are other people’s children and they’re trusting us,” Norris said.
What incidents were reported?
Here is a breakdown of the incidents that Cuyahoga County daycares reported to Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services in fiscal year 2019.
Use your mouse to click through different portions of the chart.
Back in Cleveland, when regulators did learn about Di’Yanni’s death, it triggered a state inspection at Nana’s home daycare.
They found so many violations the owner permanently lost her license . To Taylor, it was nothing compared to what she lost.
“I lost somebody precious to me,” she said.
“She was perfect to me and I know people aren’t perfect. But she was perfect.”