Letter to Legislator:
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On September 14, 2005 our 9 month old daughter, Hannah,
passed away at the home of her daycare provider. Once arriving on the
scene, the homicide detective asked if we knew how Hannah received the
bruises and contusions on her face, in addition to the cuts inside her
mouth. The marks indicated were not present when I dropped her off at
daycare earlier that morning. Still in shock over our baby’s death,
we now had to deal with the fact that someone had physically hurt our
nine month old little girl, and possibly caused her death. The gut wrenching
pain and emptiness that we have felt since that day is absolutely indescribable
and cannot be put into words.
Two days after Hannah’s death, my family was
again hit with shocking news. We were told that the woman that we had
entrusted with our precious and beloved children was a fraud. We learned
that since 2000, two children suffered spiral fractures in her care
and she had been convicted of placing infants unattended in a closet
for several hours at a time. In 2001, the sitter and her husband were
convicted of felony identity theft. They had used the personal information
of several parents whose children were in her daycare to obtain credit
cards and loans. It was also discovered that she did not have a daycare
license, as she had portrayed, and had 21 children in her “care”
on the day that Hannah died.
We are writing to you in hopes that you will disseminate
information that has the potential to protect the life of a child placed
inadvertently in the care of a child abuser. Not many people know that
on July 27, 2006 President Bush signed into law H.R.4472 – The
Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (Passed by Both House
and Senate). Part four of this bill encompasses the NATIONAL REGISTRY
OF SUBSTANTIATED CASES OF CHILD ABUSE. This database, once constructed,
will contain the names of perpetrators and nature of the cases related
to substantiated reports of child abuse or neglect (as collected by
government and related agencies). President Bush, during the signing
ceremony, commented on how it could be used to investigate potential
adoptive or foster parents, thus preventing a child from being placed
in an abusive situation.
We believe that this database has far reaching potential
for working parents in the realm of daycare. The law specifies that
“information contained in the national registry shall only be
accessible to any Federal, State, Indian tribe, or local government
entity, or any agent of such entities, that has a need for such information
in order to carry out its responsibilities under law to protect children
from child abuse and neglect.” This registry would be an invaluable
tool for parents to access, much like the Sex Offender Registry.
Each day, millions of parents rely on “home daycares”
that are not regulated by State guidelines due to the fact that they
are not licensed. The people operating these daycare facilities may
or may not be legitimate. Although conducting a thorough background
check of any childcare provider is recommended, it can be cost prohibitive
for parents with limited incomes (the ones that need daycare the most)
and may not provide the entire picture. Pair that with the fact that
you need a notarized form signed by the provider to conduct the check
and it becomes even more prohibitive in both cost and convenience. Thus,
most parents are reluctant to do it and are left to their own devices.
• A perfect world: Allow parents to access limited
information on names of persons contained in the Child Abuse Registry.
• A near perfect world: If public access is not
granted, provide parents a national “hot-line” to a designated
government agency with Registry access to check the status of a daycare
• A better solution than what we have currently:
Relax CPS guidelines to provide information utilizing this database
to parents that call about a daycare provider.
On June 29, 2006, Anne Marie Cardinal, our former daycare
provider, was sentenced to serve 10 years in the Virginia Beach Correctional
Center for 10 convictions of operating a daycare facility without a
license. Despite the autopsy report that the abrasions and contusions
on Hannah’s face were suggestive of a smothering, however, no
one has yet been charged with her death. We are waiting for the day
when charges come forth and the person responsible is finally held accountable.
Anne Cardinal will be released from jail in two to four years because
the crime for which she was convicted is only a misdemeanor and she
will not be required to serve the full term.
Since our daughter’s death, Anne Cardinal has
received 21 counts of Level 1 Child Abuse and Neglect which will remain
on the Central Registry with the Department of Social Services for the
next 18 years. However, information contained in the Child Abuse and
Neglect Central Registry is confidential and is released, only with
the child care provider’s signed, notarized authorization or a
court order. No one will ever know how dangerous this woman is and is
certain to place their child in the care of a child abuser, as we unknowingly
The Sex Offender Registry was created to protect families
from convicted sex offenders, so why shouldn’t we offer the same
security to the tiniest and most vulnerable members of our community
and protect them from convicted child abusers. I think the President
put it very well when he signed the Adam Walsh Act. He said, "Protecting
our children is our solemn responsibility. It's what we must do. When
a child's life or innocence is taken it is a terrible loss -- it's an
act of unforgivable cruelty. Our society has a duty to protect our children
from exploitation and danger."
It is too late to save our daughter’s life, but we want to do everything possible to see that no other family has to endure the pain and suffering to which we’ve been subjected, from the hands of a repeat child abuser. Accessibility to a Child Abuse Registry is essential when deciding who to employ to care for and nurture life’s most precious gifts – our children. Thank you for your time and for any assistance you may be able to provide.