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. ••EndFragment