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No foul play suspected, but day care temporarily shut down after infant's death

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The death of an infant at a central Minnesota home day care prompted state regulators to temporarily shut down the facility.

Last Thursday, the Baxter Police Department responded to a report of an unresponsive 3-month-old at a child care facility run by Kimberly J. Opay and Jerry A. Opay III, the Brainerd Dispatch reports. The infant was taken to the hospital but died despite lifesaving efforts, the paper reports.

According to the Star Tribune, the child's parents said they'd taken the girl, Brooklyn Tramm, to the doctor earlier in the week after the Opays alerted them to cold symptoms and possible breathing difficulties.

License temporarily suspended

No foul play is suspected in the girls' death, but the Minnesota Department of Human Services issued a temporary order of immediate suspension Tuesday (see the document here) – meaning the day care can not be open and operating until the order is reversed.

The order says Crow Wing County Community Services received a report that the day care may have "failed to follow sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) reduction requirements."

Privacy laws prevent the department from including details about what happened, or saying whether the suspension was tied to the 3-month-old's death. But the order says that "due to the serious nature" of the report, county community services "cannot ensure the safety of the persons served" in the program.

Minnesota statutes lay out requirements for reducing the risk of that happening, including:

  • Putting the infant only on its back to sleep, unless directed otherwise by a physician;
  • Having a firm mattress with a fitted sheet;
  • Not placing a swaddled infant down to sleep, unless directed by the parents or guardians (and if the child meets other conditions).

According to Valley News Live, the state says there have been two deaths at licensed Minnesota child care facilities this year.

The owners of the Baxter day care can appeal within five days of receiving the suspension order, but can't operate until it's resolved.

Audit finds issues with MN child care

Earlier this year, a federal audit found that, although the Minnesota Department of Human Services conducted required inspections on these facilities, it didn’t actually make sure providers were complying with state licensing requirements.

The reason? “Because the inspectors were responsible for too many providers, resulting in high caseloads and limiting the amount of time spent on each inspection,” the report said.

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