Mother of infant that died at Greenville daycare fights - FOX Carolina 21

Mother of infant that died at Greenville daycare fights for new regulations

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GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

It's been four weeks since three-month-old baby girl Kellie Rynn Martin passed away in the care of a Greenville stay-at-home daycare center.

Now her family, and other parents are already pushing for changes in the law to avoid another tragedy.

Deputies say the baby's death revealed that the woman in charge was operating an unlicensed daycare center with 23 kids at one time. Officials say conditions at the home were not safe for young children. 

According to warrants this isn't the first time that owner has been in trouble with the Department of  Social Services. The baby's death is still under investigation.

Martin's family is completely heartbroken by this tragedy, but they're using that pain to fight for a better future for all children in daycares across the state.

Kellie Rynn Martin was only given three months on earth, but those who loved her say a look  at her smile and sparkling eyes told them her story was far from over.

"She will save people. She was put there to save people," said Kellie Rynn's mother, Kathryn Martin."This was her purpose in life."

This is a purpose over which three moms have bonded. Just weeks ago they had never met. Their only common thread was the daycare on Donington Drive that deputies say was run by Pamela Wood. Each of their children were cared for there. They say they thought it was a safe and reliable place.

"We went off references. Our friends went there," said Kathryn Martin. "They had their kids there for seven, eight years and everything was fine."

In February the unimaginable happened, Kellie Rynn was found unresponsive in her basinet. Deputies charged the owner with several offenses related to the three-month-old's death.

The trio of moms say they were shocked, and looked for answers from DSS but found the information very confusing.

"The web site is so gray, parents that are checking in on these centers are having a hard time figuring out what to look for," said mother Katie Gresham.

Now they say it's time for change in legislation to keep this tragedy from happening again.

"After the facts of what we found out, we know what to look for what's safe and what's not what's the best place for children," said mother Marjorie Estoye.

It's information they say all parents need to know. The mothers say they were then approached by SC State Rep. Shannon Erickson and Tricia Sheldon. They were invited to a DSS subcommittee to tell Kellie Rynn's story and made waves. 

"In that meeting, there was kind of an uproar at one point, a lobbyist leaned forward and said we have made more movement than we've made in 10 years," said Estoye.  

The mothers' goal is to get bill H3532 passed. It's an amendment to the current regulations of daycare facilities. It would require the state to keep a closer eye on in-home childcare settings. The mothers want DSS to visit in-home facilities more than once every two years, especially to facilities that have previously been reported for concerns.

"Otherwise, they have nobody backing them up, making sure they are doing the right thing," said Gresham.  

The moms say knowledge will be their best weapon. They're fighting to make resources to check daycare regulations and legal requirements second-nature to new parents.

"Everyone needs to know these forms and differences so it doesn't happen again," said Martin. "My husband and I shouldn't have gone through this, and I don't want any other parent to have to go through this."

You can find more about their goal and information for parents looking for daycare facilities on their Facebook page.  

The moms also say they're looking to connect with other parents from the Donington Drive daycare that have not yet come forward.

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