Day-care search ended in tragedy for Aurora couple
The Denver Post | November
When Greg and Jacqueline Rodriguez wanted to put their toddler in day care, they did everything right.
The Aurora couple went to resource and referral agencies, checked licensing records, interviewed references and visited several child-care homes and centers. They finally settled on Shawna Pint, whose licensing records for her 2-year-old home day care showed no complaints or hints of trouble.
"I wanted someone like me," Jacqueline said. "I wanted a mother."
"A substitute mother," Greg added.
But now their son, 15-month-old Hunter, is at Children's Hospital suffering from shaken-baby syndrome - with brain damage allegedly inflicted by Pint, 29, almost four weeks ago.
After their own heartbreaking experience and in light of last week's state audit that revealed faulty criminal checks and inspection standards for child-care providers, the Rodriguezes say they'll never again put their son or the child they're expecting in day care.
"We're never going to let him go," Greg said as he and Jacqueline kept a watchful eye on their son's hospital crib. "Never, ever no matter what we have to do."
Just before Pint began caring for Hunter, another licensed provider watched him. But Jacqueline pulled him out "because I had a feeling about it."
Jacqueline said the state's day-care system is "appalling." When she was trying to find ways to stay home with Hunter, she had considered working at a day-care center, but the pay was too low.
These days the couple literally live at the hospital and still don't know what they'll do as far as job schedules once Hunter comes home. Jacqueline, 28, works in sales at Oppenheimer Funds, and Greg, 32, works in customer service at Pentax.
Hunter has been at Children's since Oct.19. At first he was in intensive care. His brain was bleeding and swollen. Doctors don't know the extent of damage, and they don't know if Hunter will make a full recovery. The boy may be released later this week.
His parents said that since the incident, the toddler acts more like an infant. His neck bobbles and needs to be supported, he no longer walks, and his vision is impaired.
The Rodriguezes don't talk about Pint, who has been arrested for investigation of felony child abuse.
"It's just so hard," Jacqueline said. "It just takes away everything you have. It takes away all of your trust. Just everything. It just makes you feel so violated."
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