An Overland Park woman has been charged with operating an unlicensed day care where a 7-month-old boy died earlier this year.
Bilma Maese-Sanchez, 54, is charged in Johnson County District Court with aggravated child endangerment and unlawfully operating a child care facility.
The Lenexa boy, identified in court documents as Gabriel Omar Rivera-Contreras, died at her home Feb. 4.
An autopsy report lists Gabriel’s cause of death as sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS.
Maese-Sanchez is the second person charged this year by Johnson County prosecutors with running an unlicensed home day care.
Paige Hatfield, of Olathe, was charged March 1 with aggravated battery and operating an unlicensed day care.
She is accused of injuring a 4-month-old boy she was caring for at her home.
Johnson County officials say they don’t know how many day cares are operating illegally, but last year they investigated 31 reports of illegal day care operations.
There are 496 licensed home day cares in the county.
Unlicensed operations are not subject to the kind of scrutiny and inspections required for licensed operations, said Eldonna Chesnut, division director of child care licensing for the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment.
In Kansas, anyone who provides more than 20 hours a week of home care for two or more unrelated children is required to be licensed, she said.
Being licensed is not a guarantee that there won’t be problems, but Chesnut said, “We see more problems with illegal day cares where nobody is checking.”
“It’s not difficult to be a licensed provider and be safe,” she said.
In the Overland Park case, Maese-Sanchez appeared in court on the charges Wednesday and was released from custody after posting a $5,000 bond.
Overland Park police were called to her home in the 7700 block of Benson Street just before 1 p.m. Feb. 4 on a report of a child not breathing.
First responders performed CPR, but the 7-month-old Lenexa boy could not be revived.
According to the autopsy report, Gabriel’s mother dropped him off about 4 a.m. that day. He was fed and had his diaper changed around 6 a.m.
He was seen sleeping on his side around 10 a.m.
But at noon, when his mother returned, he was found unresponsive, according to the report.
Maese-Sanchez is not accused of intentionally hurting the child.
The charges say she “recklessly” placed the child in a situation where his “life, body or health is injured or endangered.”
Lenexa police are also investigating the death of another child at a home day care that was properly licensed.
A 16-month-old boy died April 28 after police say a piece of clothing snagged on a piece of furniture and he was strangled.
The next court hearing for Maese-Sanchez is scheduled for May 11. As a condition of her bond, she cannot own, operate or work at any day care facility.
Day care licensing
An information fair for people interested in becoming a licensed day care provider in Johnson County is being held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Johnson County Central Resource Library, 9875 W. 87th St., in Overland Park.
Johnson County will pay the licensing fee for anyone who attends and starts their own home day care business.