GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The owner of a Kentwood day care that was shut down after a baby died was in court Friday. Her 11-year-old son was removed from her care and placed with his father, pending the outcome of multiple investigations.
The hearing to determine where the boy will live was not public. 24 Hour News 8 was told that it’s not unusual for a hearing like Friday’s to be held off the record, if there’s a reason the child shouldn’t be in the home and there’s another good option for where he can go.
“The law provides that you can do that type of maneuver so to speak, I don’t want to say maneuver because it seems like we’re trying to avoid something, but it’s just the mechanism upon which we can get the case moving and make sure the child’s safe,” said Vicki Seidl, senior attorney for the prosecuting attorney’s juvenile division. “In this particular case, like I said, we have a father there’s no allegations against him in this petition whatsoever.”
Mowers is not accused of abusing or neglecting her son, the investigation was sparked by the death of 3-month-old Cooper Fales.
According to a state investigation, Cooper was at the now closed daycare last Thursday. The medical examiner said that he died between four and five in the afternoon, he was then placed in his car seat, covered with a blanket and eventually sent home with his dad.
The investigation went on to say that Cooper’s parents discovered the baby was unresponsive more than an hour after he likely died. They performed CPR and called 911, but he didn’t survive.
“We have to look into – see what happened – and while we try to do that it’s just sometimes better if the child’s out of the home environment where something occurred,” said Seidl, referring to Mowers’ 11-year-old son.
24 Hour News 8 asked Mowers if she wanted to explain what happened at the daycare last week, she walked past our crew and didn’t make eye contact. Her attorney said she had no comment.
24 Hour News 8 found a Facebook page that said it was for the daycare, posts went back several years. They are mostly about things like hours, and activities the kids do — like baking. There were a couple of posts that were different a few years back.
The page was updated as recently as earlier this month, despite a post from 2012 that stated the page was going away and becoming a secret group only for parents and family of the kids at the daycare. The reason for that was because, “Viewers who know nothing about me or my daycare will want to put their 2 cents in and I will no longer tolerate that! This is my daycare!”
A few weeks before that post, there was one talking about how some kids at the day care went to bed without lunch because, “They thought it was more fun to disrespect miss tess when they were asked to pick up the toy room,” the post said they did get lunch after a nap.
The state does have strict guidelines about when kids should be fed at childcare facilities, including, “A center shall not deprive a child of a snack or meal if the child is in attendance at the time when the snack or meal is served.”
Another post on the page was entitled “12 things your child care provider wants you to know.”
One of those, said parents shouldn’t be upset when there are a “few extra kids” at the daycare center because income can be unreliable so someone who runs a daycare is forced to “pad” her daycare with extra kids to keep the business going.
The state is looking into how many kids were at the home the day Cooper died. An investigation said Mowers initially told them she was watching six, the number she’s authorized to care for, but they later found out 10 kids were at the daycare.