BATON ROUGE (CNN/WAFB) — Officials in Louisiana are awaiting an autopsy in the death of an infant who stopped breathing at an unlicensed daycare center Monday.
Authorities had reportedly issued a “cease and desist” order over the summer and were working to shut the business down.
The owner says she cared deeply for all the children under her care.
Camey Raven, the owner at At Home Day Care said, “My heart is broken that this innocent life is gone.”
At home day care owner Camey Raven was watching over a 3-month old baby boy at her home in Prairieville, Louisiana Monday.
It was the baby’s sixth day with Raven.
He was fighting a cold and when she says she put him down for a nap.
Twenty minutes later, she says she heard him cry.
“I walked in. He was lying on his back. He was pale in color and he was gasping for air.”
Raven says she did CPR– as did her daughter Savannah.
Savannah Raven said, “So, I grabbed the baby. I instantly put him flat on his back and elevated him, like his neck, and I was giving him chest compressions and mouth to mouth. He was gasping for air.”
That’s when paramedics arrived and Raven called the infant’s mother.
Raven says she heard paramedics say the baby had a pulse when they left her home, even through the ambulance ride.
“They still had a pulse. His mother got to see him with a pulse, and then, later to be told that they were told his heart just wasn’t strong enough.”
For 20 years, Raven has been taking care of children. First at her home in Denham Springs and now at her Prairieville home.
“I’m scared, because fingers can be pointed at me, that I was the neglectful bad guy, when I was simply just loving a baby.”
She does not have a licensed day care – but the state believes she should.
In order to be considered a licensed day care, there have to be 7 or more children, not including kids related to the care giver.
Raven says she chose not to be licensed because of the tight restrictions.
“If a child comes in with a runny nose in the morning, and they would go to a normal licensed facility, the state would require for them to send that child home. This is Louisiana – everybody has allergies. People’s noses run for no reason whatsoever. I’m not going to cost a parent a day of work because their child has a runny nose.”
The department of education says they received complaints prior to May 2017 of an unlicensed day care at Raven’s Denham Springs home.
But investigators said the home did not meet the definition of a day care.
On May 12th of this year — a complaint that the Prairieville home was operating as an unlicensed day care.
But state workers found only five children there so it did not qualify as a day care that needed a license.
On June 27th — a follow-up visit found 18-children, meaning now the home was running as an unlicensed day care
Two days later, the state mailed a cease and desist order saying “you are hereby ordered to immediately cease the operation of your child care center.”
The letter said Raven needed to reduce the number of children to “six or fewer”, “provide care for less than 12.5 hours per week until you obtain an early learning center license.”
Even though the state says that was sent by certified mail, raven says she never received the order.
Then in July, another follow-up visit found raven with 16-children so the state began preparing to get a court to issue an official order requiring either a license or shut down.
“I love these kids. I develop relationships with all of them. I mean, I have one grand baby who calls me ‘Nanna,’ but every single baby that walks through this house within days call me ‘Nanna.’