Sunday, May 20, 2018
Public safety

Police: Baby died after staying at unlicensed day care home in Largo

LARGO — Police are investigating the death of an infant who had been staying at an unlicensed home child care center, authorities said.

Largo police received a call about 5 p.m. Wednesday from 1162 Fay Ave. in Largo. When officers arrived, the 3-month-old boy had already been taken to a local hospital, where he died the same day, said Largo police Lt. Paul Amodeo.

Detectives have not found any evidence of foul play, he said.

The baby's cause of death was unknown Friday. Police are awaiting autopsy results from the medical examiner, which could take weeks. The names of the infant's parents and caretakers were not released Friday because the investigation is still active.

About 10 children under 5 years of age were being cared for at the home, which is east of Keene Road and south of Eagle Lake Park, Amodeo said.

The state Department of Children and Families does not have a record of contact with the Largo home, spokeswoman Natalie Harrell said, adding the agency only becomes involved in an investigation if "the child died as a result of neglect."

While police investigate the infant's death, officials from the Pinellas County License Board determined that the two adults living at the home have not had a child care license since 2008, executive director Patsy Buker said.

"We're looking at this issue of the unlicensed child care and I can tell you that we're still in the middle of our investigation," she said. "There are people in deep grief right now, parents who lost a baby."

The board's investigation may be completed next week. People operating child care homes without a license can face up to a misdemeanor charge, Buker said.

This is the not the first time board officials have encountered an unlicensed child care facility in Pinellas. Within the past year, they received about 20 reports. Two places were confirmed to be operating without a license, she said.

License applicants must fill out an application, undergo a background check, complete several educational courses, and pass inspections of the building where the child care will take place, Buker said.

"This isn't easy," she said. "There are a lot of regulations."

Contact Laura C. Morel at [email protected] or (727)445-4157.

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