Mother uses son#039;s tragic death to fight careless daycare facilities

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 25, 2006

The daycare worker placed three-month-old Steven on his stomach on a soft pillow.

She did not check on him for 90 minutes.

Baby Steven was found dead.

This daycare center is still in operation.

Baby Steven's mother, Tara Kyser, a Luverne native, is the coordinator of a new branch of Alabama Watch, entitled &#8220Kids' Watch.”

Alabama Watch is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan consumer research and education organization that focuses on the concerns of Alabama families and small businesses.

&#8220Most of our childcare facilities are excellent,” Kyser said. &#8220However, there are obviously still lots of problems.”

Kyser's son's death was originally ruled a SIDS death, but new information determined that Baby Steven suffocated. Kyser said that she and her husband were unable to get the Department of Human Resources to close the daycare center, and they were also unable to get the district attorney to prosecute the daycare provider. However, Kyser said she had filed a wrongful death action against the daycare provider.

&#8220Parents need to know if the daycare provider has had past violations of DHR rules or regulations,” she said. &#8220They should also be told the truth about how many children they are licensed to have in their facility and about the credentials of all of the employees. In my case, if I had known that the provider's 14-year-old daughter was helping to watch my son, I never would have left him.”

&#8220Not only that, she was caught keeping 12 children when she was only licensed for six. I have talked and begged that something be done, but she has only received deficiency reports,” Kyser said.

&#8220Mrs. Kyser is one of the most dedicated volunteers we have,” said Barbara Evans, the director of Alabama Watch.

One important example Kyser and Evans gave of Alabama Watch's success was the &#8220Baby Douglas Bill,” which makes the administering of medication to children in daycare a crime. The bill was based on the death of 10-week-old Douglas Hernandez of Mobile, who was given four different kinds of over-the-counter cold medication while in daycare. At first, the baby's death had been ruled as a SIDS death.

&#8220Alabama Watch and Kids' Watch are committed to children and to the elderly,” Evans said. &#8220We really believe that Kids' Watch will be an important factor in making our childcare facilities safer.”

Evans said that Alabama Watch was formed five years ago, with Sue McInnish, executive director of the Alabama Civil Justice Foundation, obtaining the first funds for the organization.

&#8220We get money from individual donors,” Evans said. &#8220We have a one-person staff and lots of volunteers.”

Kyser and Kids' Watch are currently working to pass the &#8220Baby Steven Law.”

In this legislation, it would make the reckless assault of a child by a daycare provider a crime. It would also make misrepresentation by a child daycare provider a crime if that misrepresentation would substantially place the health or safety of a child at risk. The bill number is HB384.

For more information about Alabama Watch, visit