Daycare could be shut down after infant's death - FOX 13 News

Daycare could be shut down after infant's death

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BRADENTON (FOX 13) -

It's supposed to be a safe haven for children, but the Department of Children and Families says they've found just the opposite at the Children's Academy of Southwest Florida.

DCF investigators were called out the Bradenton daycare on Jan. 7 after a 4-month-old child died.

The cause of her death is still under investigation, but DCF says surveillance video shows staffers placing the baby in a bouncy chair with a propped up bottle, so she could feed herself.

DCF says the video later shows an employee taking her to a crib and laying her on her stomach. They say the video shows the baby kicking and trying to lift her head.

By 11 a.m., a staffer found her unresponsive.

DCF says the Children's Academy of Southwest Florida staffers' account of what happened didn't match up with the video.

"The initial reports that they told our DCF staff absolutely conflicted with what was viewed in the surveillance video," DCF spokesperson Natalie Harrell said Wednesday.

DCF documents show one of the employees caring for the baby tested positive for having cocaine and marijuana in her system that afternoon.

DCF says the manager allowed that employee to come back to work the very next day.

DCF says the surveillance video also showed staffers carrying children by one arm.

"It's not surprising. It's about time they shut down this place. It's ridiculous they left it open as long as they did," parent Nestor Melendez said Wednesday.

Children's Academy of Southwest Florida is no longer allowed to care for babies under 12 months old, due to DCF's emergency suspension order.

Effective Feb. 1, DCF says they plan to revoke their license altogether.

DCF says they've investigated Children's Academy of Southwest Florida in the past, but only for minor incidents.

While DCF is revoking their license, Children's Academy will have two weeks to appeal that decision.

They will be allowed to continue operating during that time period.

Bradenton police are also investigating. DCF says criminal charges could follow.

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