The parents of a baby boy who died in a Wichita day care home last year have launched a petition and social media campaign aimed at revoking the day care provider’s license and strengthening oversight of child care statewide.
Brock and Christina Mosier’s 5-month-old son, Bryce, died on Aug. 4, 2011, while he was in the care of Karin Patterson, a licensed child care provider who continues to operate Karin’s Kids in north Wichita, documents show.
The Mosiers say their son’s death, which a coroner ruled to be Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, could have been prevented if Patterson had followed safe-sleep practices, including laying the baby on his back to nap and checking on him regularly while he slept.
Patterson told officials investigating Bryce’s death that she put the baby to sleep on his stomach in a playpen between 1:30 and 2 p.m. and found him dead at about 4:15 p.m., according to documents. She disagrees with the Mosiers’ version of events in the days before Bryce’s death.
“It’s clear she didn’t do what she was supposed to do,” Brock Mosier said. “We want justice for our child, and we want to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else’s child.”
Last week he and a friend launched a Facebook page titled “Justice for Bryce Mosier,” which features smiling photos of their son and a link to an online petition asking state officials to revoke Patterson’s license. As of Saturday afternoon, the page had more than 21,000 likes and was being shared worldwide.
At the Mosiers’ request, State Sen. Jean Schodorf requested a formal investigation into the events of Bryce’s death and asked state officials whether they followed proper procedures in the investigation.
Robert Moser, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said in a letter to Schodorf:
“Based on the investigation of Bryce’s death, it was apparent that Ms. Patterson did not follow safe sleep practice recommendations. However, these practices had not yet been adopted as regulations, so it was determined that revocation of Ms. Patterson’s license was not permitted.”
Bryce died about six months before the recommendations became regulations.
Lexie’s Law, landmark legislation that tightened oversight of Kansas child care facilities, was signed into law in 2010. But the host of new requirements for supervising children – including monitoring, diapering, safe-sleep practices and playground oversight – did not go into effect until February of this year.
Patterson, reached by phone Friday, said “there’s a lot of untruths” in the Mosiers’ Facebook narrative of what happened in the days leading up to Bryce’s death. She said she laid Bryce down on his stomach to nap because “that’s how they placed their son” at home, a claim the Mosiers deny.
Christina Mosier says she picked up Bryce from day care one day about a week before he died and was “stunned” to find him sleeping on his stomach, atop a folded comforter on the floor.
“I reiterated that he was never put on his stomach for naps, only on his back,” Christina Mosier writes in her Facebook account. The boy also suffered a severe diaper rash after starting day care that month, she said.
“My husband and I discussed the whole weekend whether or not to allow Karin to watch Bryce anymore. We doctored his diaper rash, not sure what we should do,” her Facebook account reads.
Brock Mosier said their son’s death a few days later came as a shock.
“We couldn’t even process it for months. We were devastated,” he said. “They ruled it SIDS, and it was like, ‘That’s the end of it.’ ”
Earlier this year, they started asking questions, checking online databases, looking into Patterson’s daycare history and requesting additional paperwork, he said.
More than 200 pages of documents obtained by the Mosiers through a Kansas Open Records request show that Patterson was investigated in 2003 after a complaint that she left a sleeping child unattended in a car on a 100-degree day while she went to a garage sale.
After a subsequent visit to her daycare home in 2003, a state official noted several additional violations, including unsupervised children, and wrote, “Recommend enforcement action before these children are more neglected!”
Patterson would not comment on the inspections or other issues.
“I have a lot of thoughts on that, but I’ve spoken to my attorney and we have no comment on that matter,” she said Friday.
“If you have the autopsy report (on Bryce Mosier), that speaks for itself,” she said. “It said it was a SIDS death.
“KDHE is not revoking my license, so I think that that speaks for itself, too. … I’m not going to give any more comments about that because I don’t want to feed into the frenzy that’s out there.”
‘This is all that’s left’
Brock Mosier said he launched the Facebook page because “We’ve tried everything else. We’ve exhausted all of our other resources, and this is all that’s left.”
He said he and his wife consulted with a local attorney who told them they might have a civil case against Patterson, but “no one would take it because there’s not enough money there.”
“We just want to get the word out there, what happened to our baby and to us,” Brock Mosier said. “This just isn’t right.”
They’re also angry that the majority of information about licensed child care providers, even after the passage of Lexie’s Law, is still difficult to obtain.
Tim Keck, deputy chief counsel for the KDHE, said Friday that Bryce Mosier’s death is “terrible” but that the agency was limited at the time on what sanctions it could impose.
According to records, Patterson’s license was restricted in November 2011 so that she could only care for children over 18 months. Earlier this year, she petitioned the KDHE to allow her to care for an infant sibling of another child in her care.
“I realize that the State is concerned about my ability to care for an infant because of what happened in my care while watching” Bryce Mosier, Patterson wrote in the petition letter. “… There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him and his family.
“I feel that because of this SIDS case that I have become a better provider.”
A child care licensing surveyor wrote on Feb. 3, 2012, that “appropriate sleeping/napping was noted” during follow-up visits to Patterson’s home and that Patterson had attended safe sleep training. She recommended that Patterson’s license be re-amended to allow her to care for one infant.
‘Prevent this from happening’
Keck said it’s not clear whether new Lexie’s Law regulations would lead to an immediate license suspension or revocation if a provider lays an infant down on his stomach to sleep or doesn’t follow supervision guidelines.
“Every case is different. I can’t tell you it would end up in one result or another,” he said. “But the regulations as they are now would give us some basis to take some action against a daycare provider who’s not following safe sleep practices.
“They’re much more specific and safer, and we fully support them.”
That’s not enough for Schodorf, the state senator who petitioned KDHE officials on behalf of the Mosiers. She said Friday she is “very disappointed” with the state’s response in this case so far.
“I hope that maybe, if there’s more attention paid to this case, that that will reconsider looking into the allegations,” she said Friday.
“It’s so painful to even think about this happening to any parent, but we need to think about this baby and do something to prevent this from happening to anybody else.”
Brock and Christina Mosier have a new baby – 7-week-old Sophia Marie – but say they plan to continue fighting for the child they lost.
“All this information we found out after the fact – had we known it then, we never would have sent Bryce to that daycare,” Brock Mosier said.