Northeast Times

Police looking into death of infant in day-care house

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Phil­adelphia po­lice and the city’s med­ic­al ex­am­iner are in­vest­ig­at­ing the Feb. 7 death of a 4-month-old baby who lost con­scious­ness at an Ox­ford Circle house de­scribed by au­thor­it­ies as an un­li­censed day-care cen­ter.

Re­spond­ing to a 911 call, para­med­ics ar­rived at the row­house on the 1300 block of Heller­man St. just be­fore noon and took the in­fant to St. Chris­toph­er’s Hos­pit­al for Chil­dren, ac­cord­ing to Of­ficer Tan­ya Little, a Phil­adelphia po­lice spokes­wo­man.

The child was pro­nounced dead at 12:39 p.m.

Po­lice also re­spon­ded to the emer­gency and de­term­ined that a mar­ried couple was op­er­at­ing the day-care for about two dozen chil­dren without a li­cense, Little said.

Au­thor­it­ies have not dis­closed a cause of death. No crim­in­al charges have been filed.

Pennsylvania’s De­part­ment of Pub­lic Wel­fare over­sees the li­cens­ing and in­spec­tion of day-care fa­cil­it­ies throughout the state. On Feb. 8, in­spect­ors vis­ited the prop­erty and ques­tioned a wo­man, Maria Mar­tins, about the child care op­er­a­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to a Feb. 9 cease and de­sist or­der is­sued by DPW, Mar­tins ad­mit­ted to caring for up to 28 chil­dren, who are not her re­l­at­ives, at the home. In ad­di­tion, DPW found sev­er­al “high risk con­di­tions” there. The site did not have re­quired fire safety ap­provals. It had elec­tric­al out­lets that were ac­cess­ible to chil­dren. And it had “in­suf­fi­cient adults for [the] num­ber of chil­dren in care,” the or­der stated.

DPW will con­tin­ue to mon­it­or the loc­a­tion, ac­cord­ing to Anne Bale, a spokes­wo­man for the agency. If Mar­tins de­fies the cease and de­sist or­der, she may be sub­ject to fines and civil lit­ig­a­tion, Bale said.

Bale had no in­form­a­tion about the cause of the in­fant’s death.

If al­leg­a­tions of ab­use or neg­lect arise, the Phil­adelphia De­part­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices could have in­vest­ig­at­ive jur­is­dic­tion. A DHS spokes­wo­man said that her agency, as a policy, does not ac­know­ledge or dis­cuss act­ive in­vest­ig­a­tions.

Mar­tins’ name does not ap­pear on city tax re­cords for the prop­erty. The re­gistered own­ers are Li Ai Jin and Lin Ling Ju. No for­ward­ing ad­dress is lis­ted for them. ••

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You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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