State finds 'neglectful supervision' in infant's day care death

By Robert Arnold - Investigative Reporter

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas - A state investigation into the 2016 death of an infant concluded, among other things, “neglectful supervision” on the part of staff at the now shuttered Bib and Cribs day care.

The development came after the boy’s mother refused to accept the day care’s version of what happened to her child in November 2016.

“I felt in my heart they were lying; proving it was a whole other case,” said Shawna Diaz.

Diaz said her son, Shane, was just shy of being 3 months old when she dropped him off at the day care on Jones Road. Diaz said she then received a call from the day care staff that Shane had been rushed to the hospital.

Diaz said she was told Shane was found unresponsive in his crib and went without oxygen for too long to be able to recover. Diaz said the family had to make the decision to remove Shane from life support.

The Harris County medical examiner ruled Shane died of sudden infant death syndrome. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office and state child welfare investigators closed their investigations.

Diaz refused to accept the day care staff’s claims that Shane was closely watched that day and he had been put down for a nap on his back. Diaz hired Houston attorney Joe Alexander, who sued Bibs and Cribs on behalf of the family. He also deposed the day care’s director, Nataki Griffin, and her mother, Audris Haynes.

Recorded depositions reviewed by KPRC revealed Haynes and Griffin gave different answers than what was noted in a Sheriff’s Office and a state investigator’s report. During the deposition Haynes and Griffin changed their answers as to who was monitoring Shane at the time a problem was noticed and that Shane had actually been put to sleep on his stomach.

Texas Administrative Code requires child care facilities to place infants who are not yet able to turn themselves over in a “face up” sleeping position.

Alexander then questions Griffin as to why different answers are being given during the depositions than what was told investigators.

“Why did you tell a different story other than the truth?” Alexander asked during the deposition.

“I'm telling the truth now,” Griffin answered.

After Alexander notified the Sheriff's Office and state about the contents of the depositions, both reopened their investigations into Shane’s death.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission recently released the findings of the state’s investigation. Investigators wrote that the day care "did not demonstrate good judgment or competency when caring for children." Other findings include staff was "not truthful" that Shane was put to sleep on his stomach and "neglectful supervision."

READ THE FINDINGS

State officials said Bibs and Cribs surrendered its child care license earlier this year and closed its doors. State officials told KPRC adverse findings remain on a day care operator’s record for 10 years and is taken into account if that person tries to open another child care business.

Officials with the Sheriff’s Office tell KPRC their criminal investigation has not yet concluded.

Diaz continues to push for change.

“Every time I think of my baby, which is every single day,” said Diaz. “I'll never have my baby back, but this is my mission now.”

Diaz and Alexander are pushing for a new state law requiring child care facilities to be equipped with cameras that continuously monitor children.

Alexander said Bib and Cribs was equipped with cameras, but the devices were only turned on at night after the business closed.

“They were worried about people stealing diapers,” Alexander said.

Alexander said requiring cameras to constantly monitor children prevents situations where parents have to fight for answers and can help vindicate facilities falsely accused of wrongdoing.

“A parent can know the truth and I think it's important for a parent to know the truth about what did or did not happen to their child,” said Alexander.

Alexander said state Rep. Ana Hernandez has drafted a proposed bill and will present it during the upcoming legislative session.

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