Number of child deaths rise in Tippecanoe County

An increase in the number of child deaths in Tippecanoe County has the local child fatality review team asking for your help.

Posted: Jan 23, 2018 6:54 PM
Updated: Jan 24, 2018 10:05 AM

LAFAYETTE (WLFI) - An increase in the number of child deaths in Tippecanoe County has the local child fatality review team asking for your help.

In 2016, there were four child deaths in the county, last year, it doubled to eight. Experts said even if you don't have children, you can play a role in decreasing that number.

"These are absolutely the worst cases for us to prosecute because we know the death was preventable," said Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Patrick Harrington.

Harrington had one of those cases in 2016. Daycare owner Debrah Keyes was charged and sentenced for reckless supervision and operating a child care home without a license.


"One of the first things they need to look for is that license," said Debbie Sampson, a child care licensing manager in Indiana.

"Those providers are inspected yearly," said Sampson. "We go out every time there is a complaint."

That's where anyone can help. Sampson said reporting daycare violations is important to keep kids safe.

"We don't have the staff to be in every childcare that often," said Sampson. "However, we do investigate every complaint we get."

And you can remain anonymous.

Darin Wolfe, M.D. is a pathologist who attended the Child Fatality Forum on Tuesday at the Tippecanoe Building in Lafayette. 

"I've done three pediatric or baby autopsies in the last thirty days which unfortunately appear to have had a component of unsafe sleep," said Wolfe. 

Educating parents and child care providers on safe sleep is a major priority for the Tippecanoe County Child Fatality Review Team.

"You have a new baby and you're very tired, the baby is not sleeping well or not feeding well then you have an increased risk of falling asleep with the baby," said Wolfe. 

It's recommended to use the ABC Acronym. Lay the child alone, on their back and in an empty crib.

Harrington hopes to report zero child deaths in 2018 and no additional charges related to poor child care.

"It's critical for us to push this message so we don't have that case," said Harrington. 

We're told child deaths are more common in the winter months because parents are trying to keep babies warm. However, blankets are not recommended for infants because they can cause suffocation.

To report a child care facility or look up more information on the topic, click here.

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