A child care center operating out of a Rock Hill home was shut down Friday after authorities found 20 children in the home while responding to an emergency call for an infant who later died.
Just before 11 a.m. Friday, officers responded to a call regarding an unresponsive infant at a child care center at 1114 Pearson Drive.
The infant, 6-week-old Zaden Jones, was taken to Piedmont Medical Center, where he died, York County Coroner Sabrina Gast confirmed.
There was no sign of trauma to his body. The cause of his death is under investigation, pending the results of an autopsy, Gast said.
Upon arrival, officers found the center operating over legal capacity, city officials say. There were 20 children younger than 5 in the residence with two adults supervising, said Rock Hill Police Lt. Brad Redfearn.
City Zoning Department officials posted a stop work order at the residence, which was zoned for the care of up to five children.
The children were released to their parents and guardians, Redfearn said.
The S.C. Department of Social Services is investigating. Authorities won't know whether charges will be filed until after further investigation, Redfearn said.
Rock Hill records show the business has had a valid license since 2006 and has renewed it every year, said city spokesperson Lyn Garris.
The business is licensed to Elizabeth Caldwell, who goes by the name of Elizabeth Truesdale, her daughter Titeta Caldwell said.
Titeta Caldwell, a certified nurse's assistant, sometimes helps her mother operate the day care center. Titeta Caldwell, who lives at the house, was not home Friday morning when authorities responded to the call. Titeta Caldwell said the number of children at the center varies, and they get clients through "word of mouth."
Elizabeth Caldwell was at the house Friday afternoon but declined comment.
A friend from Chester was helping Elizabeth Caldwell with the children Friday, Rock Hill Police said.
The day care has been operating on and off since 1993, said Marilyn Matheus of DSS media relations. Elizabeth Caldwell is registered as the operator of a family child care home, Matheus said. Her registration was renewed in March.
Among the requirements to qualify as a family child care home are zoning approval, letters of reference and consent forms from parents.
No inspections or staff trained in providing emergency care are necessary, according to information provided on the DSS website.
Requirements for operating a child care center for more than 13 children include proof of education and child care experience, inspections for fire, sanitation and child care licensing and staff certified in basic first aid and CPR during all hours of operation, among others, the website states.
Local zoning restrictions might also apply, Matheus said.
DSS does not physically inspect family homes unless there's a complaint. No complaints have been filed against the Elizabeth Caldwell's day care center in 36 months. DSS is investigating the center's history, Matheus said.
'A good neighbor'
Marie Chisholm has lived near the Pearson Drive center for more than 20 years. Referring to Elizabeth Caldwell as "Miss Nanny," Chisholm said she has never seen that many children at the house at one time before.
"She's a good lady," she said. "She's been a good neighbor."
Betty McIlwain was walking her 3-year-old grandson to the day care center Friday when she saw the police and ambulances there.
"It's scary, very scary," said McIlwain, who has taken her grandson there for several months and said he enjoys going to the house.
The most children she'd ever seen in the house was four or five sitting on the floor, and it's always been clean, she said.
Twenty children is "a lot of kids," said McIlwain, who said her grandson won't be returning to the day care center if it reopens.
Of Elizabeth Caldwell, McIlwain said: "She's a good person, and I hope everything just works out for her."