CHESTERFIELD, Va. – On Tuesday, March 3, Laurie Underwood was sentenced to jail after a one-year-old died in her home daycare, during a fire. The images of the Chesterfield home day care in flames, and of parents running towards the house, are hard to shake.
Underwood pleaded guilty to illegally operating a home daycare. She had eight children in her care, which is prohibited under state law. Five is the limit for an unlicensed home daycare. And Underwood also had no working smoke detectors. She received an eight-month sentence. Upon her release, Underwood won’t be allowed to care for children for three years.
The State Department of Social Services detailed what parents should consider when picking a daycare for their children. For example, the agency has no way of tracking unlicensed or unregulated providers because they are not registered with the state.
Which is why the agency said it is important for parents to do their homework and find a child care program that's safe for their child.
While the State Department of Social Services only regulates licensed facilities, the agency does track unlicensed providers who are voluntarily registered, which means that they are not required to have a license.
But those providers have to choose to register with the department as a child care provider.
Here are a few items that the agency said parents should ask themselves before deciding on a daycare:
- Which Child Care program is best for my child and me?
- Do I have all the information needed to make an informed decision?
- What regulations should child care providers meet in my area?
- And it there a record of complaints about the child care provider I am considering and how do I find out about it?
Anyone seeking more information about licensed daycares in the Commonwealth can call 726-7000.
The Virginia Department of Social Services website contains information on licensed facilities in the Commonwealth. It lists information such as; the number of children allowed to be cared for, information on past complaints and inspections, and license type.