Baby Death Gets Ossining Child Care Provider Probation

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An Ossining woman was sentenced to three years' probation Wednesday after the death of a 5-month-old who was in her care in April 2011.
An Ossining woman was sentenced to three years' probation Wednesday after the death of a 5-month-old who was in her care in April 2011. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons User JP Kärnä

OSSINING, N.Y. – An Ossining woman received three years’ probation Wednesday for child endangerment after a 5-month-old infant died in her care last year.

Maria Villaloja, who ran an illegal home day care facility on Croton Avenue, previously pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge after 5-month-old Monica Yunga reportedly died of suffocation in her care in April 2011, according to the Westchester County District Attorney's Office.

The sentencing of Villaloja came a week after the District Attorney’s Office launched a public health campaign to educate parents after finding that 26 infant fatalities had occurred since 2006 as a result of unsafe sleeping conditions.

Cynthia Rivers, who has worked as a child care provider in an Ossining home for 10 years, said she was appalled when she found out that Villaloja did not have a license to practice child care. 

“Anyone who is doing this illegally is really putting children at risk,” Rivers said Thursday. “It’s really hard to do this. I think it was absolutely crazy that she was doing it illegally. The responsibility that goes into taking care of a child is tremendous, and if you’re not properly licensed you’re leaving yourself out there as a target, and you’re putting the lives of other people’s children in danger.”

Rivers added that many parents do not take the proper steps in finding child care providers.

“It’s a big responsibility and it needs to be done by someone with a license,” she said. “Parents need to check with the Westchester Child Care Council and be careful who you leave your child with. You should learn as much about them as possible.”

Some parents don’t look past the bottom line, Rivers said.

“They always look at the price and that’s it,” she said. “Even though someone might be cheap, you need to be absolutely sure who it is you leave your child with. Cheap is not always good. Especially when they’re taking care of your children.”

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The Child Care Council of Westchester is here to help parents find safe, quality child care. We have trained counselors and a current listing of all the registered and licensed child care providers and programs in our community. We also have all kinds of written materials for parents, in English and Spanish, to take some of the guesswork out of the child care search. Visit our website at http://www.childcarewestchester.org/parents_overview.php or call us Mon-Fri, 9 to 5 at 914-761-3456.

Anyone caring for more than 2 children for more than 3 hours, if the children and adult are not related, must be registered with the NYS Office of Children and Family Services - otherwise, it's illegal, as was the setting where this baby died. If you suspect illegal child care, please call us immediately at 914-761-3456 and say that you want to make a complaint. We will take your information and initiate an investigation if appropriate. You can remain anonymous...but you may be keeping some young children safe.

Thank you for you help.
Kathy Halas, Executive Director
Child Care Council of Westchester, Inc.

Knock on some more doors in Ossining..there are plenty more of these illegal "cribs" in lots of houses. While you are knocking kindly check the documentation of all the "alleged citizens" residing there.

Three Years' Probation? Did that innocent baby get three years' probation? Where is the justice?

Representative Jan Schakowsky made cribs perfectly safe when she got the CSPC to ban perfectly fine cribs with drop down sides. The crib in the picture did not have a drop down side.

I am infuriated when people use a child's death to impose their foolish views of the world on the rest of us.