Shantel Patrice Wilcher, operator of an unlicensed day care, pled guilty to manslaughter in a Florida criminal case that was brought against her. Wilcher, who left a one-year-old boy in a truck for two hours in temperatures exceeding 90 degrees, faces up to 15 years in prison for the manslaughter of the toddler. The child was left in the vehicle while Wilcher went into a store with her two teenagers and the child’s 3-year-old brother. After unsuccessful attempts to resuscitate the child, Wilcher called 911 to report the incident, the toddler was pronounced dead at the scene.
During 2006 and 2007, Wilcher operated a licensed day care. However, due to failed inspections and repeated citations for inadequate supervision, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) fined her $500 and closed the day care center During the time of the incident, Wilcher was operating an unlicensed day care. DCF fined Wilcher $30,500, in December 2009, for her operation of the facility; a record high fine for DCF at the time. The fine has still not been paid; other legal options are being considered as well.
The toddler’s death is a tragedy for the family and the community. Parents, care takers, day care providers, and babysitters have a duty to care for and protect children. Wilcher’s poor judgment resulted in this toddler’s tragic death. Lawmakers are passing bills mandating day care providers divulge pertinent information regarding their status as a provider, including any prior investigations and citations received by the provider. Hopefully, these new laws will help better inform parents of whose care they are putting their children under.
To read more about this incident see Operator of an Unlicensed Day Care Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter.