Kemi Green and Gbolahan Bankolemoh believed that a home-based daycare center would be best for their two young sons. Green, a pediatric nurse, chose a center they were told was licensed and state approved. In March 2009, their barely 2-year-old son, Abiola Bankolemoh, was left unsupervised and drowned in a swimming pool at his daycare center.
The Gwinnett County State Court jury returned a $9.8 million verdict against a family that ran the home daycare center near Buford where the child drowned, the plaintiffs’ lawyers said. The family was also awarded $50,000 for pain and suffering.
Tonya and Shawn Moon were operating an illegal daycare facility out of a Buford property owned by Terry Moon, Shawn Moon’s father. Green and Bankolemoh reported that Tonya Moon had showed them a CPR license and claimed the state had not only issued her a license but would return to conduct regular checks. The home business violated daycare licensing laws and Gwinnett County’s pool ordinance, according to their lawyers.
During the trial, a state employee stated that Tonya Moon had never applied for a daycare license. This contradicted Moon’s statement that she had applied but wasn’t yet approved, the parents’ lawyer said. Georgia law states that taking care of more than two children for pay requires a license.
Childcare in Georgia
With an increasing number of households requiring a two-parent income, more children are put into the childcare system. In Georgia, there are about 515,760 children under age six who need care while their parent(s) work, according to the National Association of Child Care Resources & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA). The NACCRRA also notes that the while number of childcare centers is at 2,339 in Georgia, only 6.5 percent (151 centers) are accredited. An even lower number of the 2,549 family childcare homes are accredited at 3.4 percent. With the rarity of an accredited center and the average annual income of a full-time, year-round childcare provider at barely more than $18,000 per year, it’s clear that parents are taking a risk when they choose childcare outside their home.
There are many ways that parents can assess the safety of a childcare facility, as well as whether the center is the right fit for their child. NACCRRA offers some tips for evaluating childcare homes and centers here. The organization also runs a program called Child Care Aware that provides referrals and information about local childcare agencies.
Wrongful death cases can be extremely difficult to understand, complex and challenging. If you have experienced a tragic death of a loved one, you should contact our Wrongful Death Lawyers at Childers, Schlueter & Smith, LLC to see how we can help. All inquiries are kept strictly confidential and initial consultations are free.