Washington Child Death Spurs New Safety Proposals

The tragic death of an infant last year at a Seattle day care center is spurring calls to action in the state legislature. According to an Associated Press report reprinted in The Oregonian, Washington legislators will soon debate a proposal to “require formal investigations at child care centers when a death occurs, even if the child appears to have died from natural causes.”
“The proposal is named for a 5-month-old girl who died last year while napping in a Seattle home day care center where another death occurred in similar circumstances more than a decade earlier,” the news agency reports. The May 2013 Washington child death has been attributed to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, which AP describes as “a major cause of death for children 2 and under in child-care settings.”
SIDS deaths can often be prevented with proper infant care techniques including the careful monitoring of sleeping children, but much about SIDS remains unknown and controversial. For those reasons it is surprising that Washington law does not, right now, require an investigation of this and any similar deaths. Common sense would seem to argue that any Washington child death or serious injury should be thoroughly investigated even when it appears to be from natural causes. Only by looking thoroughly at the circumstances surrounding each such tragedy can we learn from it.

The parents of both of the infants who died a decade apart at this particular child care center have testified in support of the legislation. The parents of the baby who died in 2001 even told the AP that upon hearing of the second death they felt a sense of guilt. “We naively trusted the system, and we felt everything that needed to be done had been done,” one said.

As a Washington and Oregon child injury attorney I fully support this effort to ensure that everything that can be learned from a day care center tragedy is learned. The more we know about the circumstances surrounding each infant death the better our chances of ensuring that no child dies in a way that might have been prevented had parents and day care center workers alike known more.

AP via The Oregonian: Washington Legislature Scrutinizes Childcare Deaths