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Monday, February 26, 2007While things are still moving forward full speed, I wanted to post an update on the situation going on here in Ohio where the child care chain City Kids Day Care has been discriminating against breastfed children. (If you're just catching the story, read the original post about City Kids Day Care.)
First, some updates on the past few days...
Robin has decided that she would like to move forward with a lawsuit against City Kids Day Care. While she has no interest in profiting financially from this incident, she would like to file a discrimination suit that would help push toward new legislation or guidelines in Ohio that would keep this from happening to other moms. (A lawsuit against Wal mart by Ohio mothers that were harassed for NIP is what led to the passing of our own breastfeeding in public bill a few years ago.) She is still seeking out legal representation and I'd invite Ohio attorneys to contact me if they have an interest in taking on Robin's case.
Next, I've sent emails to all of the organizations that Ms. Elam claims to be a member of on the City Kids web site. I've heard back from one organization (which asked not to be named on the blog) and they told me that they have no record of Ms. Elam being a current member and that they also could not find her in the database for the past three years. I also attempted to check City Kids Day Care's listing on the Better Business Bureau, but they are not listed as members.
A Lactivist reader dug up some interesting data on the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services site. The site lists any compliance issues that an Ohio Child Care center is having. Here are a few of the compliance issues listed for City Kids from their inspections late last year.
During the inspection, it was observed that toilets were not being flushed after each use in the Borders restroom.
During the inspection, it was observed that children were not being properly supervised, in that the staff members in the little professors classroom were sitting at the table and the children were placed in the back of the room in an area where the could not be seen by the staff members.
In review of the employees' records, it was determined that criminal records checks were requested, as required, several months ago however, the results had not been received from BCI&I for those persons listed on the Employee Record Chart.
At the time of the inspection, it was observed that a medication, sunscreen, was within the reach of children in the Nickelby room.
During this inspection, the following food preparation items were observed to be in need of cleaning: unclean refrigerator the foil is not covering the rusted shelves which food/milk containers are sitting on top of unclean front/side of the cabinet.
During this inspection, it was observed that proper diaper changing procedures were not followed as a staff member placed the child on the floor after a diaper change then touched a toy without handwashing her hands which contaminated the toy.
The safe handling of breast milk sounds like the least of their problems to me.
Having spoken with Robin via email, she is also in agreement that a nurse-in at the City Kids Day Care center would not be the best course of action for the cause. It's important that we remember that the point of Lactivism is to fight for, and protect, children. Nurse-ins at retail outlets or places of public accommodation do not put children directly in the "line of fire." I think it's very important that we consider the potential disruption that a nurse-in at the day care center might have on the (innocent) children that attend that center.
As such, what we're looking to do is to build a state-wide list of interested moms so that we can plan a LARGE nurse-in at a public location (perhaps the state house) in an effort to push for new guidelines or legislation that would make it illegal for day care centers to discriminate against breastfed children. This gets the same point across, still cites City Kids as the catalyst for the nurse-in, but protects the children that attend that center. (Again, drop me an email at jennifer at thelactivist dot com if you are interested...)
With all of that said and done, I also want to alert you to another incident with a day care center in Michigan. Katy Kramp is a mother that has just pulled her two year old son out of the Rainbow Child Development center in Plymouth, Michigan. Katy had long nursed her son at drop-off and at pick-up to help ease his transition into the new environment. However, this past January, she was told by the staff at the center that she could no longer nurse him in his room. Katy's best guess is that someone complained about the fact that she was nursing her son in the toddler room and the center reacted by claiming she could now ONLY nurse in the infant room. They cited Michigan's day care regulations which read:
(b) The center shall have a designated place set aside to accommodate mothers and their children who are breastfeeding.
Apparently they've chosen to take "a designated place" quite literally and were demanding that they had now set a designated place and Katy could ONLY nurse her son there. Katy (and myself) firmly believe that the spirit of that guideline is to make sure that day care centers provide nursing mothers with someplace that they CAN go, not to force mothers into that one specific location.
Here's what Katy had to say about her attempts to nurse him in the "new" location.
They wanted me to nurse him in one of the two infant rooms. This did not work for us: The babies and new toys were so distracting that he wouldn't nurse. And the point of nursing at this point is to ease the transition at a point where transitions are difficult. Going into his room to drop off his stuff, then going to the infant room, then back to his room, then facing him wailing as he realized that he'd missed his chance for milkies - it just made an already tight routine nearly impossible.
When she attempted to nurse her son in his classroom again, the staff of the Rainbow Child Development center responded by evacuating the children from that room.
When I asked Katy if this was a center specific regulation or a chain-wide regulation she responded:
I had a hard time getting a clear answer on this one. The director gave me the impression that it was a state decision that had nothing to do with her (though I am pretty sure the state wouldn't pick the rooms for her.) The regional director said that it was that location's decision, but that it was consistent with the policies in other locations.
Angela over at Breastfeeding 1-2-3 did a great job of putting together contact information for all relevant parties. So I'd ask that you once again get your fingers out and prepare to do some typing (or dialing) to share your thoughts on yet another day care center discriminating against a nursing mother.
You can contact the director Mary Buchin by email at: Plymouth@RainbowChildDevelopment.com or by phone at
(734) 455-2761. Rainbow Child Development Centers has locations throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and New Jersey. To contact the national management, call (800) 90-LEARN or use the on-line contact form.
Please help continue to spread the word. Keep those emails and phone calls rolling into City Kids (get the contact info from the original post) and start sending calls and emails toward the Rainbow Child Development Center as well. Contact your local news sources, national news sources and your state representatives and share with them the need to put new guidelines or legislation in place that would keep this from happening in your state. (Remember, unless you live in Louisiana, there are no laws keeping day care centers from discriminating against breastfed children.)
Word is spreading quickly about this incident, showing once again the power of nursing mothers and the Internet. Conversations are going on at the Mothering forums, The Baby Wearer forums, Baby Center and the MSNBC message boards. It's also starting to show up all over the blog world including a mention at popular parenting site Babble.
I had an email from Robin just a bit ago and she told me that she was interviewed by Channel 10, the CBS news affiliate in Columbus this afternoon and the story should run on the 5pm news. It ran on the local Fox and ABC affiliate last Friday, but the video clips have not been uploaded to the web site.
On the note of news coverage, I've also been in touch with some national reporters that have some interest in covering this. If any lactivist readers have run into similar problems with day care centers not wanting to deal with breast milk, please email me at jennifer at thelactivist dot com. Between Robin and Katy we've got the start of an interesting national story. If I could find a few more moms in different states that have run into similar problems, I'd like to add their names to the list of contacts.