A two-year-old child is in critical condition after an accident in the care of an unlicensed day care.
Jacksonville Police responded to the Kiddie Heaven day care center on Ireland Drive on the Westside Tuesday afternoon where a toddler had fallen in to the backyard pool and nearly drowned before being rushed to the hospital.
The Florida Department of Children and Families has since determined that day care, which is run out of a home, is not licensed.
“This is a major concern to DCF,” says DCF Spokesman John Harrell.
Harrell says a day care center must be licensed if care takers are watching more than one group of unrelated children in addition to any children in the family. While Harrell couldn’t yet confirm how many children were in the facility’s care, he says they’ve been able to determine so far this should have been a licensed facility.
“These people did not get the proper training to know what to do in the event of emergencies,” he says.
Being a licensed facility means three things. First, operators have had their backgrounds screened for any offenses- like child abuse- that would prevent them from operating a facility. Second, caretakers undergo training for first aid, CPR and other emergency response. Finally, the facility is subject to DCF inspection.
Harrell says because this facility was not licensed, the children were at risk, which was unfortunately shown through Tuesday’s accident.
“We certainly expect to investigate further and take further action,” he says.
The operators of the facility are facing hefty fines, according to Harrell. He says they are now investigating whether any other complaints have come in to the facility and any other factors that could have put children at risk.
An additional problem, and what Harrell calls an “audacious move” is that Kiddie Heaven is actually advertised online. Harrell says it’s illegal for an unlicensed facility to do that.
On the Kiddie Heaven website, an in-ground pool is advertised as one of the benefits of their service. For safety around the pool, they advertise:
“We have an inground pool, and swimming lessons are included in care for anyone wanting to learn. We provide all safety equipment, and Waterbabies SPF 50 for all the children. The slider door to the pool has 3 locks to prevent even the most inquisitive, intelligent, and mischievous of children from accessing it unsupervised.”
We reached out to the operators of Kiddie Heaven and left a message with one of the operators. The phone number for the second operator has been disconnected/changed.