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One-year-old child pulled from burning in-home Chesterfield daycare has died

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CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- The child pulled from an in-home daycare that caught fire Tuesday has died, according to Chesterfield Fire and EMS spokesman Lt. Jason Elmore. The child was identified as Joseph Allen, 1, of Chesterfield.

"It is a really rough time," loved ones of Joseph Allen told CBS 6 reporter Joe St. George.

CBS 6 has learned young Joseph just celebrated his first birthday.

The initial investigation has reveal the cause of the fire to be accidental in nature, Elmore said.

The gas company at the home told CBS 6 natural gas has been ruled out as a cause.

Fire at in-home daycare on Valerie Court in Chesterfield (PHOTO: Chesterfield Fire and EMS)

Fire at in-home daycare on Valerie Court in Chesterfield (PHOTO: Chesterfield Fire and EMS)

There were eight children in the Midlothian home, along 11700 block of Valerie Court, when the fire started in the garage at about 12:16 p.m. Tuesday.

Elmore said when firefighters arrived the owner of the daycare told them all children in her care were out of the home, but that was not the case. Still, crews followed protocol and swept the home.

"Crews were reporting very heavy smoke conditions, smoke bank down to the floor, zero visibility," Elmore said.

The smoke prevented crews from finding the little boy in a bedroom until roughly 35 minutes after firefighters were called to the home.

"If they tell us there is someone in the home, we can do that focused search where they were last seen, but in this case that was not it," he said.

CBS 6 found no record of the daycare being licensed with the state of Virginia.

The state requires a license if a venue has more than five children being supervised, that are not related to the adult in charge.

"It is hard breaking that a tragedy can happen like this - what can you say to the family? Nothing," neighbors told CBS 6.

CBS 6 has learned possible criminal charges are being investigated by the Chesterfield Police Department.

" As far as a criminal case goes there has to be some level of negligence," legal expert Todd Stone said.

Stone said possible felony child neglect could be investigated by police as well as misdemeanor charges for not having a license. He added it is also possible that no charges could be filed.

"They are going to consider the fact she has to deal with this for the rest of her life," Stone said.

"This is an absolute tragedy," Lisa Thompson with ChildSavers said.

Thompson said, in general,  licensed facilities need to have fire plans on file with the state.

"A regulated program is responsible for conducting monthly fire drills," Thompson said.

ChildSavers  specializes in child care well being. Its hotline is (804) 644-9590.

21 comments

  • Guest13579

    I don’t understand why the news keeps harping over the fact that the daycare wasn’t licensed. Would having a license really have prevented this tragedy? Are daycares required to have regular inspections as part of a license, an inspection that may have noticed a fire hazard? I don’t see anything online about regular inspections. And would a license have made the woman remember the 8th child in the house? That’s why the poor child died, because no one realized he was still in the house until it was too late. I don’t see how having a license would have corrected that error.

    • Milly

      How do you not realize that a child is missing? She is in charge of 8 children. Does she not know how to count? Clearly if she can’t keep track of the 8 children she has been entrusted with the care of she shouldn’t be running a daycare.

      • Paula

        I agree with Milly. Maybe she should had a helper. I had 13 children in my care and I knew when one was in the bathroom. I feel sorry for her & the mother but the day care provider was doing more than she was capable of doing

      • Kathy Chamberlain

        I’m done with the posts on this website. I now know why I never watch news (or anything else) on CBS6–too much negativity from the people that do!

        Praying for all involved in this horrific tragedy. And praying for all of you that have posted negative comments about the situation. Don’t judge–put your energy into positive thoughts for the families. RIP Baby Allen

      • Sally

        Because if she had a license, she would have been restricted to having 5 children or having a other adult to help. Maybe she wouldn’t have forgotten one behind. Also, safety inspections would have been done.

    • sw

      Yes it could have helped. They do inspections of the home. It is also required that if you have over 5 children you must have someone else helping you with the children. She had to be making more than 800 a week which would have been more than enough to hire someone to help her with the children. No one ever thinks anything is going to happen. They need to start thinking that everything and anything can happen. Parents use home daycare because they cannot afford commercial daycare. All daycare should be licensed to protect both the person running it and the parents leaving their children there. My heart goes out to this family. I cannot even imagine the pain they are feeling right now. I look at my youngest grandson who just turned 1 last month and it makes me want to cry for this family.

  • Crystal

    The reason the news keeps pointing out her lack of licensing I think is because it makes sure that the state can’t in any way shape or form be held responsible. And also as a reminder to parents to make sure when choosing childcare you research the licenses and qualifications. Also without a license this woman can be charged with multiple offenses. My thoughts are prayers are with the Allen family for they are the ones needing the most support at the moment. I can’t imagine what they must be feeling at the moment. RIP sweet angel baby Allen.

    • Manalishi

      “the state can’t in any way shape or form be held responsible.” Seams reasonable enough, however the commonwealth and it’s municipalities will always claim a “sovereign immunity” and quash any accountability regardless.

  • Meaghan

    I really feel like forgetting one of the children you’re caring for is unforgivable in this situation. What if she had taken the kids to the store, field trip, park, and left one kid behind because she forgot they were with her for whatever reason. It’s the same thing if something bad had happened to one of the kids in those examples. I just can’t get over her telling the fire fighters there were no more kids in the house. That could’ve made a big difference if they knew to go looking for him

  • AIMEE

    Regardless of the licensing requirements, it’s become nearly impossible to find affordable quality child care, especially for infants. The providers operate on a shoestring budget, and every little technical requirement that the agencies impose transfers into the cost of care – not that these requirements aren’t warranted. The parents who choose in-home daycare at illegal ratios are sadly either unaware of the ratio limit, are gambling with their child’s life, or cannot afford or find other arrangements. The overall system is failing those families struggling for a marginal quality of life. Dual-parent income has become a dire necessity, especially for parents still struggling under student loan and other debt, and it has once again demonstrated it’s ill effect on our children. My heart goes out to all the folks touched by this tragedy. This generation of parents and caregivers has unique challenges compared to those in the past.

  • Paula

    Wow that the first for manlishl and I hope it not the last. Keep up the good work. Msanlishl I will give you a gold star.

  • John

    Anyone who questions if a childs like could have been saved IF This Daycare Center Had Been LICENSED With The State THE ANSWER IS YES!!!!
    The Virginia Dept Of Social Services-Tour Of The Child Care Setting CheckList: 1-Provider Is Prepared For Emergencies. 2-Provider Has An Emergency Response Plan, First Aid Kit. SMOKE ALARMS & FIRE EXTINGUISHERS. The FACT that this child care provider told the firefighters or police that everyone had gotten OUT OF THE HOUSE IS A HUGE CLUE that this person was INCOMPETENT!!!!#

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