8 months after baby's death, Virginia daycare shutting down amid neglect investigation: 'Big relief'

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C & A Daycare & Preschool
Posted at 9:53 PM, Oct 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-26 10:04:36-04

KING GEORGE COUNTY, Va. -- Eight months after an infant died at a King George County daycare and preschool, which sparked a child neglect investigation, the childcare center will officially be shutting down.

Parents told CBS 6 that they dropped off their children at C&A Daycare each day, thinking their kids were in safe hands, but had no idea about the concerning actions that were taking place inside.

“We were both very devastated and angry and hurt," one family said after learning their child was part of a child abuse and neglect investigation.

“We got a call from the Department of Social Services, and [they] said that our daughter was a potential victim of abuse.”

Maxx Wilson
Maxx Wilson

It began on February 21 when 5-month-old baby Maxx Wilson died after suffering an emergency at the daycare.

An inspection by the Department of Social Services reviewed video footage from that day and found that staff swaddled Maxx, laid him on his stomach in a crib, covered him with two blankets including over the top of his head, and did not check on him for more than three hours.

Once staff did check on Maxx, his body was limp and cold, according to the report. The child was rushed to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. The medical examiner's office ruled Maxx's cause of death as complications from COVID-19 and adenovirus.

Two daycare employees, Tiffany Roy and Arlene Blanchard, were charged with felony child neglect in connection to the investigation.

"[I felt] very guilty honestly that I trusted these people who I didn't even know to take care of him," Maxx's mother Kasey Hamlet told CBS 6 in a July interview.

Maxx wasn't the only child allegedly harmed.

Maxx Wilson

Other social services inspections found that C&A staff participated in forbidden practices with additional children, including tying a child down to a cot, striking a child, being forceful with children, causing a child to hit their head on a crib, and leaving children alone unsupervised.

One family, who wished to conceal their identity, said their daughter was one of them.

“I had a very hard time, wanting to quit my job, wanted to just be home with my kids," the child's mother said.

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The child's parents said they didn't find out their child was involved in the investigation until July, more than four months after the allegations occurred.

All the while, the family had kept their other child in the daycare but would have made a different decision had they been given information sooner.

"It was drawn out too long," they said. "And then just the answers we were given were very vague."

After Maxx died, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) said C&A voluntarily closed its infant operations; however, the daycare continued caring for other age groups.

Kasey Hamlet and Trevin Wilson

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During an August Social Services inspection, it was noted that more than 40 kids were still present at the center.

On July 26, the VDOE, the state agency that licenses childcare centers, initiated the process to revoke C&A's license.

C&A appealed.

A hearing was scheduled for October 30, but on Monday, October 23, daycare owner Levita Ware signed an agreement to surrender the license in lieu of enforcement action from the state.

C&A Daycare will have to close its doors for good on October 31, which was welcome news for some families.

“It was like a weight was lifted off our shoulders because it’s been very traumatic for our family. There's no words to say. It's a big relief, and I'm glad that no other families have to go through that," one family told CBS 6.

Kasey Hamlet and Trevin Wilson
Kasey Hamlet and Trevin Wilson

Maxx's parents Kasey Hamlet and Trevin Wilson said hearing about the closure brought a "bit of comfort," but they added, "nothing can ease the loss of Maxx."

“We’ve spent the last few months trying to spread awareness about the abuse and neglect that has happened there and continued to happen even after Maxx’s death. While we wish that they had been forced to close sooner than this, we’re relieved that they will no longer be responsible for the safety and well-being of any more children," Hamlet and Wilson said in a statement to CBS 6.

Local and state agencies will assist families using subsidies to find other care options quickly.

Though some parents said they had not been satisfied with how long it took, they believed the outcome was a testament to the advocacy of parents who spoke out.

“I feel like using your voice and pushing for what you think is right and advocating for not only your kids, but other peoples’ kids is super important," one parent said.

CBS 6 requested a comment from C&A Daycare but did not hear back.

The King George Sheriff's Office and Commonwealth's Attorney's Office did not release any further information about the ongoing criminal investigation.

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