Daycare Provider Pleads Guilty to Child’s Death

In Pella, Iowa, daycare provider Valerie Lynn Wackerly has been charged in the death of a toddler. On Thursday, Wackerly entered a guilty plea and her sentencing hearing has been scheduled for April 5th.

About the Toddler’s Death

According to KCCI, Valerie Lynn Wackerly, 32, of Pella, Iowa was charged for involuntary manslaughter of 17-month-old Amelia Smith. The child was left in a dark room, in a car seat, while napping. At that point, police said, Wackerly left the residence and had an uncertified day care provider in charge.

On June 10, the child was found unresponsive and was taken to Pella Regional Health Center and then flown by Life Flight to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines, according sources.  Amelia Smith passed away at the hospital.

Police stated her death was due to mechanical or positional asphyxia by the State Medical Examiner’s Office.

Only after a 7 month investigation was Wackerly charged.

Daycare Abuse and Neglect

According to

  • The United States does not have federal reporting requirements for child fatalities in the child care industry.
  • Only 38 states have child care licensing agencies that require child fatalities be reported.
  • The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services recorded 49 deaths due to unregulated child care from 2004 to 2007.

According to, in 2006 about 5,321 daycare providers were perpetuators of some form of child abuse. Of those numbers:

  • 53.8% of the cases involved neglect.
  • 21.9% of the cased involved sexual abuse.
  • 14% of the cases involved physical abuse.
  • 3.5% of the cases involved psychological maltreatment or other/unknown abuse.
  • 6.7% of the cases involved multiple types of maltreatment.
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