DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — A Douglas County mother shared her family’s heartbreak after their 3-month-old baby girl died at an unlicensed home daycare. The child care provider has been arrested and charged with child abuse resulting in death.
Kelsey Matthews is on a journey no parent should ever have to be on. Her baby girl died on Aug. 26.
She still wants to protect her precious angel, so we are not showing her face or using her name. But Matthews says there are things the community needs to know.
“You have to wake up every single day and relive the fact your baby’s not there, she’s dead. That’s one of the hardest part as a parent. Parents aren’t supposed to bury your kids and when your child dies, a part of you literally dies with them as well. That’s something you made,” Matthews said.
She also said one of the hardest parts has been explaining death to her living 3-year-old.
“When you’re 3-and-a-half, you don’t understand how permanent death is. You try your best as a parent to explain that, but you still see your child trying to grieve, the same way you are, but you don’t understand it. Our 3-year-old will tell you her sister is dead and she’s in heaven, but at the same time, we will go to a store and she will ask where she is,” Matthews said.
“It never goes away. Time doesn’t make it better. You wake up every day with the loss. The heaviness on your heart never goes away. You just learn how to deal with it and put one foot forward. We’ll never be ok.”
Matthews described her newborn as “perfect.” She was healthy, happy, and very loved.
“She was born perfectly healthy, a beautiful baby. We don’t like to use the word perfect in our house because we believe there is beauty within flaws. But she was perfect. You hear about babies smiling within their first week or two of life, you hear how it’s just a reflex, our baby would laugh. She would laugh in her sleep. Our baby was not a hard baby. She was very active, very happy. She would be completely content in a swing or on a play mat watching the other kids. She had a personality that’s for sure. She would tell you if she didn’t like something. But she was easily soothed,” Matthews described.
All of that was stolen from Matthews, her husband and their 3-year-old daughter. They dropped the two girls off at Amanda Anderson’s home daycare on Aug. 26.
They got a call that afternoon that the 3-month-old had been rushed to the hospital.
Matthews remembers the morning drop-off, “I took her out, handed her to her, gave her kisses, and told her to have a great day and my living child as well. She was too young to be on food. She was just on milk.”
She spoke to Amanda the next day.
“She said she checked on our baby twice and when she went up the third time, she wasn’t breathing. She started CPR. I asked if she was breathing. She said no. Our agreement that our baby would sleep in the dock-a-tot so she was always in a safe sleep environment,” Matthews said.
“I asked if the detectives had picked it up. Amanda responded, ‘no, the detectives forgot it. It’s down in my laundry room.’ Detectives don’t forget things, they don’t forget to take key pieces of evidence that our child would’ve been sleeping in when she died. That’s kind of the point in time the first flag went off in my head, and I realized something else going on. There’s something else that she’s hiding, something she’s lying about. From that moment on, it’s just been lies, lies, lies it sounds like what she’s been telling investigators, parents.”
Matthews and her husband found Anderson through coworkers and other families in their community. She came highly recommended, but the Matthews’ did their own research.
“We want people to know, we are educated parents. This wasn’t a $20 a day, run out of the basement day care. We did our due diligence. We did everything we could to check out this woman. We went over, had a two-page list of questions we asked her, we went through the house. She gave us a tour. She showed us the kinds of things they sit in, when they eat, the kinds of toys they play with, she showed us where they would be sleeping, each would have their own room and in pack and plays,” Matthews said.
“We didn’t just drop our kids off at the door, we walked into her home. And while you couldn’t see the living room or kitchen because they were behind the stairs, you could see the formal dining room and the play room. Kids would come down the hallway and see if it was their parent there to pick them up. Not once did I see an unreasonable amount of kids or hear an unreasonable amount of noise that 17 kids would provide.”
Only after their baby’s death did they discover Anderson had 16-17 children at one time.
“We were shocked she had that many in there, we had no idea. I’m a teacher. Other families there were case workers, school counselors, social workers, nurses, doctors. these are all areas of profession. We are mandated reporters. We are trained to pay attention to things we hear, things we see. We have to report them within our own fields,” Matthews said.
“Nobody knew she had that many kids in her house. I honestly can’t fathom how she had that many kids in her house. Where she put that many kids in her house.”
“She was able to manipulate people, including us. I think she was a master manipulator because even after our baby died, and she was given the cease and desist order, she called parents that weekend and talked to them about the cause of death, which is still unknown,” Matthews said.
“The autopsy isn’t closed yet. We don’t know how our baby died. But she told them it was because of SIDS and there was nothing she could have done to prevent it. Then she reopened her doors that Monday.”
According to the arrest affidavit, based on her overall child care practices, Anderson “knowingly and recklessly provided an environment that did not allow for the proper care of an infant, ultimately leading to her death.
“She should be held accountable for the death. It is her fault our baby died, but it doesn’t bring my child back, nothing will. At the end of the day, my baby was in her care and she was unable to keep my baby alive because of the type of environment she had in her house,” Matthews said.
Matthews said she found out through news coverage that the Department of Human Services had issued Anderson five cease and desist orders before her baby’s death and two more after her death.
“I wish we would’ve known about the cease and desist orders. I wish there was something in place where that information would’ve been accessible to parents because if we would’ve known, we wouldn’t have taken our children there,” Matthews continued.
“Super frustrated and super enraged especially because I called her the day after our baby died. I told her I probably didn’t need to say this, but because we had a contract, I need to say it. Our living daughter would not be going back to her care. She said, I don’t think I could ever do this again after what happened, I just don’t think I could do it. That was on Thursday. Within one business day, she was back to opening her doors to other kids. Not only was she lying at that point in time, and playing the victim in this situation. She was willingly providing care, when she was providing such negligent care, our daughter died because of it.”
Now, through her heartbreak journey, she is hoping to bring about change, making it easier for parents to find information about licensed and unlicensed child care providers.
“If there’s anything brought out of our baby’s death, there are changes that will be taking place so that other families don’t have to deal with this ever again,” Matthews said.
Matthews hopes the community can help.
“Share our story, share the truth. That’s most beneficial.” Matthews said, “There’s a lot of kids that need daycare especially with the growth of Colorado. There’s a lot of kids, there’s not a lot of licensed day care providers.”
She said it takes communities to find people like Anderson and she is encouraging families and neighbors to keep a close eye out for unlicensed day care providers who are taking on too many children and speak up if you see something that just doesn’t seem right.