Caregivers face charges over 2 babies' deaths
The China Post news staffA babysitter and her son face manslaughter charges after two babies in her care died on the same night in what is believed to be two separate accidents, Hsinchu County Government and prosecutors said yesterday.
February 3, 2013, 12:08 am TWN
The 40-year-old babysitter, surnamed Chen, and her eldest son, 20, were initially granted bail after prosecutors completed a preliminary probe and found no foul play. Both are still charged for allegedly causing the deaths while performing their duties.
The two were later detained as Chen was unable to raise the NT$200,000 required for bail.
According to prosecutors, the woman made an emergency phone call on late Friday night saying a 6-month-old baby girl had been strangled by a computer mouse wire. The baby girl was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
As police questioned Chen at the hospital, the babysitter received a call from her eldest son, who told her that another 2-month-old baby had choked to death on milk. The baby was also rushed to the hospital, where doctors pronounced her dead.
Chen, a licensed babysitter, told prosecutors that she was taking care of four infants at her home when the accidents occurred. The other two are an 18-month-old girl and the twin sister of the dead 2-month-old baby.
She said sometimes she has to take care of as many as five babies at the one time.
She said that at some point on Friday the 18-month-old girl was given a computer mouse to play with, but she had no idea how the mouse ended up becoming the cause of the accident.
The Hsinchu County Social Affairs Department said that currently there are no regulations limiting the number of babies a babysitter can take care of at the same time.
A set of regulations was passed in 2011 limiting the number to four and requiring that licensed babysitters join the community babysitting network. The regulations, however, comes into force next year.
Currently licensed babysitters are encouraged to register with a community babysitting network, after which the government or its sponsored organizations will dispatch personnel to regularly inspect the babysitters' facilities.
Chen obtained her babysitting license in May 2011, but did not join the network.
The department said she is a single mother with three children. They moved to Hsinchu County from New Taipei in August 2011, and started advertising her babysitting service on the Internet.
Although birth rates in Taiwan have been low, demand for babysitting services has been strong, with the market including both larger day-care centers alongside independent babysitters who work from home.