SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– Parents in Springfield were shaken when an eight-month-old died in an in-home daycare.

Deborah Lundstrom was taking care of 10 children when she left them unsupervised for 12 minutes.

At-home daycares are becoming more popular, but parents say it’s important to do your research to make sure you’re getting the perfect fit.

One area parent, Jill Simpson, said she originally took her six-year-old son to Lundstrom for daycare.

“There was just a few things, like he cried every day and it was weird for me because he never cried when we went to OTC Early Childhood,” Simpson said. “He never cried when we went there.”

Simpson said it’s important for parents to listen to their gut. For her, it meant finding a new caretaker – which led her to Michelle Crawford.

“I’ve had an in-home for about 22 years,” Crawford said.

Crawford lives in Willard and has a licensed in-home daycare. She said it’s important for parents to ask questions so they can feel safe leaving their kid with their caregiver.

“I think it’s best to go through the interview process, go to the place, the location or come to the house, see the place for yourself,” Crawford said.

Michael Bampoe drives his five-year-old son from Springfield to Crawford’s house. He’s been bringing his kids to Michelle for 10 years.

“She generally treats them like they’re hers, like your own kids,” Bampoe said. “And that’s a big, you know, not like it’s just another job or it’s, you know, the kids come and go but she really treats them like they’re hers.”

Parents also say communication is important.

“We can drop in any time and check on them,” _ said. “The open communication and just, you know, any time there’s an issue, she’s always quick to call and I appreciate the fact that we can just drop in or call any time. And she’s always transparent with everything.”

Some ways parents can make sure the in-home daycare they’re considering leaving their kids with is to see if they’ve got a daycare license.

Providers will need a license if they are caring for more than six kids OR more than three kids under the age of 2. 

Providers are licensed for up to ten kids if they meet the following: 

  • One caretaker 
    • Can have up to four kids under two-years-old 
    • Can have six children IF the number of kids under two-years-old does not exceed three kids 
    • Can have ten children IF the number of kids under two-years-old does not exceed two kids  
  • Two caretakers 
    • Can have up to eight kids under two-years-old 
    • Can have ten kids IF the number of kids under two does not exceed four kids. 

Once a caregiver receives their license, it does not expire. The licensing process can take three months to a year depending on the type of license the caregiver plans on receiving. DESE said the application for a license is valid for six months. If the application is not accepted within six months, the caretaker can re-apply.

DESE said at-home childcare facilities typically receive their license quicker than a childcare center. DESE said the application process can take longer if a facility is being built during the process and needs more time to comply with rules. 

Parents can find inspections, complaints, license-exempt, and subsidy providers on the state’s website. Child Care Aware of Missouri also has resources for parents, like what questions to ask your soon-to-be caretaker for your child.