Given our firm’s focus on daycare negligence, we were delighted to meet Mrs. Jacqueline Boatwright-Daus, who as Mrs. Georgia International 2016, is championing the prevention of daycare injuries. She graciously put together an article for lawyers in the state of Georgia about her son’s story:
After weeks of searching, I’d finally found the child care center for my 3 month old son. It was perfect; clean, small, and close to home. I spent two or more hours quizzing the center owner from my prepared list of questions. My eyes fixated on the owner’s body language, waiting for her to blink, or show any form of nervousness with each asked question, a fixation so strong that it was only broken when she dropped her pen and bent down retrieve it, revealing what sealed the deal; her state issued licensed. Twelve months later, that license would deem worthless in my opinion. My then 14 month old son was found head first in an unattended bucket of mop water containing bleach and other chemical at his state licensed child day care center leaving him semi-comatose and ventilator dependent. For next 10 years, our lives were emotionally, physically, and financially broken. His name was Anthony DeJuan Boatwright affectionally known as “Juan.”
Failure and Fault
To add insult to my son’s injury, I would find out that the state of Georgia does not require state licensed child care centers to carry any form of liability insurance nor to inform unsuspecting parents. This had to be one of, it not the greatest oversights in the history of law making. My plumber was licensed, insured, and bonded, so was the contractor that did work on my home. In fact, I had to have liability insurance on my car, my house, and the lovely pool in my back yard. Truth be told, I felt I’d failed my son; but I knew in my heart my state and the child care center failed my son and me by not sharing information that could have possibly impacted my decision in choosing a child care center. In the midst of being broke, busted, and borderline disgusted, I knew that my son’s life had to mean something. The world never got to know the little boy whose only clear articulated words were “thank you.” He never made it out of daycare.
Fight or Flight
After nearly losing everything I’d worked so hard to obtain, I chose to spend the rest of my life fighting for the children who were presently attending child care and those who were yet to come. I won my first battle in 2004 when then Governor Perdue signed Juan’s Law, requiring child care centers in Georgia to inform parents of their insurance status by posting if they were uninsured and by getting parents to sign an affidavit stating the parents were aware that they were leaving their child with an uninsured, although state licensed, child care center. My second battle was won in 2006 when then Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia signed Juan’s Law. Persuading the federal government of their involvement resulted in the US House passing The Anthony DeJuan Boatwright Act in 2007 and again in 2009. Should this pass out of the Senate, this would cover the nearly 40 other states that do not require child day care centers to carry liability insurance and I know save millions of lives of children around our country.
In sum, the efforts made by Mrs. Boatwright-Daus continue to help our children in day care facilities, but we must continue to press these issues in order to carry on the legacy of Juan.