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Lehigh Township Daycare Owner Charged in Infant’s Death

The owner of a Lehigh Township daycare has been indicted child endangerment charges following the death of a 3-month-old who died facility last year.

Details of the Child’s Death and the Resulting Charges

According to The Morning Call, a Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli has charged Sharon L. Ballek with endangering the welfare of a child and reckless endangerment at the recommendation of a grand jury.

The grand jury was assembled to investigate the death of McKenna R. Felmly, a 3-month-old baby who was found unresponsive at Sharon’s Day Care last April.

While a criminal probe found no signs of trauma, it did conclude that the girl was place face down for her nap in direct violation of daycare regulations. State regulators reached a similar conclusion following their own investigation and closed the facility citing “evidence of gross incompetence, negligence, and misconduct.”

The grand jury rejected the charge of manslaughter as there was not enough evidence to show Bellek’s conduct was the “direct cause” of the girl’s death.

Daycare Injury Statistics

The following information was provided by Child Care Aware:

  • The most recent in-depth study concerning child fatalities in child care is almost 10 years old.
  • The Organization of Child Care in the United States, 1985-2003, found 1,362 child fatalities
  • The United States still does not have any federal reporting requirements for child fatalities that occur in child care.
  • Several organizations work to collect child fatality information, with the National Center for the Review and Prevention of Child Deaths, a web-based reporting system, being one of them.
  • Participation in the National Center for the Review and Prevention of Child Deaths is voluntary and completely dependent on state practices.

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