Family of dead infant advocate for more affordable child care

Family of murdered toddler advocate...
Family of dead infant advocate for more affordable child care

It’s been almost a year since 10-month-old Caiden Henry was found dead in his crib. Police say his babysitter, charged with second-degree murder, was responsible.

In the wake of tragedy, Caiden’s family has advocated for ending child abuse in Spokane county – where rates are 40 percent higher than the national average.

“We are failing our children, we are failing our community,” said Caiden’s aunt Kitara Johnson. “Something is wrong and we have to do something.”

Caiden’s family believes part of the solution is more access to affordable child care – especially for parents working odd hours when many child care centers are closed.

Caiden’s family sat beside community leaders Monday night at the Spokane City Council meeting to shine light on child abuse and the cost of child care.

“I don’t know if any of you are aware fo the rising cost of day care,” Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said to council members. “I couldn’t afford day care, folks. And I make a good salary.”

According to Child Care Aware, the average cost of child care for an infant in Spokane county in 2016 was $849 per month, $10,188 each year – more than in-state tuition at WSU. It’s a cost many parents can’t afford – but a service some families desperately need.

Amy Vega, Executive Director of the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery, also spoke at Monday’s meeting. In 2017, the nursery received more than 8,000 requests for emergency service.

“Of that we served about 5,600 children who were able to come to the nursery, but we turned away over 2,000 requests for care,” Vega said.

The nursery is a temporary safety net. Caiden’s family hopes their tragedy will inspire a more permanent solution.

The conversation is far from over.

On February 20th, KXLY morning anchor Robyn Nance will moderate a community forum titled “It shouldn’t hurt to be a child in Spokane.” The forum is from 6:30-8 p.m. inside the Excelsior gymnasium at 3754 W. Indian Trail Road. For more information, contact Karen Kearney at (509)-328-7041.