Stricter standards ahead for day care facilities

A five-month-old boy died at an in-home day care in Carmel in January.
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Next week, there will be stricter standards for all regulated child care facilities, whether in a home or at a larger day care center.

Some of those standards include national criminal background checks for all staff. Licensed providers will also be required to have training in child abuse and neglect prevention standards.

If you take your kids to an unlicensed in-home day care, though, those stricter standards won't do your children any good.

All of this comes in a week after a mother and her daughter have been charged in an infant's death at an in-home day care in Carmel this past January.

When his grandmother dropped five-month-old Conor off at Stacey Cox Daycare in Carmel, the baby boy was alive and well.

According to an affidavit, by that afternoon on January 24, baby Conor was dead.

When Connor's caregiver Stacey Cox went to check on the baby napping in a pack and play, the affidavit states, "She found the baby to be stiff and cool to the touch."

According to the affidavit, Connor's daughter, Kirsten Leigh Phillips, had put the baby down for a nap in the pack and play earlier that afternoon.

Police later found the bottom of the pack and play broken, along with a blanket, creating a concave area where they believe the baby suffocated.

Now Cox and Phillips, who police say helped at the day care Cox ran out of her home, are both charged with Reckless Homicide, Neglect of a Dependent Resulting in Death and Involuntary Manslaughter.

Cox is also charged with operating a day care without a license and unlicensed practice of nursing.

According to police, Cox told her clients she used to be a nurse and was CPR certified.

Carmel Police say even after Conor's death, Cox continued to run the day care, telling an undercover female police officer who posed as a mother that "she had openings for two children."

That's when investigators say Cox told the officer to check out her web site which said Cox "was a nurse who loved her job but quit to pursue a career in child care."

"If someone tells you they're licensed, insist upon seeing the license," said Mindy Bennett with Child Care Answers, a non-profit that helps parents find appropriate child care.

"If you're choosing a child care provider who is not licensed, you can't guarantee that they've gotten any type of training including CPR and first aid, training in safe sleep practices. Those types of things that are going to make them a better provider," explained Bennett.

Police say Cox should have had a license because she was caring for more than five children at once in her home. A license would have guaranteed she met certain state requirements for the health and safety of the children in her care.

"Anytime there's a death in child care, it's truly heart breaking," said Bennett.

There are ways to check on licensed child care providers. The state has a website: