Day care provider is charged in infant’s death
Chesterfield in-home facility was unlicensed
An unlicensed day care provider who routinely watched more than 16 children at once in her Chesterfield County home has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and felony child neglect in the death of a 3-month-old boy in her care.
After a monthslong police investigation and consultation with the Chesterfield Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, authorities have charged Carrie C. Persichini, 52, in the Aug. 23 death of Peter Hitt.
Police responded at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 23 to Persichini’s home in the 4200 block of Bridgewood Road, near the intersection of Hull Street Road and state Route 288, for a report that an infant was unresponsive and in cardiac arrest. The boy was taken to St. Francis Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
The state medical examiner’s office determined the child died of “sudden, unexpected infant death associated with unsafe sleep environment,” a spokeswoman said. The manner of death was ruled undetermined.
Police said the infant was sleeping in a foldable playpen with a removable bassinet that a baby also can sleep in.
Necole Simmonds, director of public affairs for the Virginia Department of Social Services, said Persichini did not have a state license to provide child care. Virginia law requires providers of home day cares to be licensed if they watch five or more children unrelated to them.
Chesterfield Sgt. Brad Conner said Persichini was “routinely” caring for upwards of 16 children but less than that on the day the infant died.
Conner said he could not immediately recall how many children Persichini was watching on Aug. 23, but it was more than five children.
“It was over the required amount for a license to be required,” Conner said.
He said there was no indication that “anything intentional was done to cause the child’s death” and “there is not one particular thing in this case that really led to those charges.”
However, “it was kind of a culmination of (several factors),” Conner said. “And certainly the number of kids being watched at the time contributed to the investigation and probably assisted the commonwealth’s attorney in making that decision to go forward on charges.”
Persichini was charged under a new state law, effective July 1, that stiffens the penalty for unlicensed child care providers convicted of criminal neglect in cases in which a child dies or is seriously injured in their care. The offense, a Class 4 felony, is punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
The Virginia General Assembly last year passed legislation known as “Joseph’s Law” in response to the October 2014 death of Joseph Matthew Allen, 1, who was fatally injured in an accidental fire at the home of his day care provider, Laurie Underwood. The child was mistakenly left in a second-floor bedroom of Underwood’s Midlothian home, strapped in an overturned infant car seat.
Underwood was charged and convicted of illegally operating the inhome day care without a required state license — the only offense that prosecutors said she could be charged with at the time. Underwood was watching eight children, more than she was legally allowed without a state license; she also was caring for more than four children younger than 2 years old, another violation.
She was sentenced to 12 months in jail with four months suspended.
Virginia legislators in 2015 passed a law that lowered the threshold for state licensing of a home day care to five or more children unrelated to the owner. The threshold at the time of Joseph’s death was six or more.
Persichini turned herself in to police Wednesday afternoon. She has been released on an unsecured bond and is scheduled to appear Jan. 19 in Chesterfield Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.
Three-month-old Peter Hitt died at a Chesterfield County day care. The provider has been charged in his death.