In-home daycare settings allow caretakers to work from home while offering working mothers an alternative to traditional day care settings. Parents weigh the benefits and drawbacks of their daycare options and most are satisfied with the care their children receive. When a tragedy occurs, as it did with the death of one-year old Maria Harris, the situation is reassessed in hindsight and unimaginable grief.
Maria was the adored child of her teenaged mother, Esther, both of them living in the supportive environment of her grandparents. It was Esther's determination to provide a better life for her daughter that led her to place Maria in Stephanie Spurgeon's in-home day care.
On August 21st, 2008, Maria's grandmother Patricia Harris picked up Maria from her first day in Stephanie's home. She left with Maria in her arms and a foreboding sense that something wasn't right. Maria was in too deep a sleep, heavy and limp like a sack of sand. She didn't rouse as she was buckled into her car seat. Her eyes did not open and her head lulled to one side. Maria would never regain consciousness.
One week later, Maria was removed from life support and several of her tiny organs were donated to children who needed them. The Harris family was living a nightmare and Stephanie Spurgeon would face a trial for the murder of Maria Harris.
At the quiet end today, Dick and I are talking about the injuries that caused Maria Harris' death as well as the law applied to her case. Shaken baby syndrome, also known as abusive head trauma, is a topic spurring debate and strong emotion. In "Death in a Home Daycare" we hope to shed some light on recent controversies and provide insight on prevention.