We've all seen horrific footage from Nanny Cams. Babies being shaken, slapped, hit and tossed aside. For the first time, I actually saw the after-math. Dolores Rios and her son will stick in my mind forever.
Dolores is a mother caring for a son who is blind, unable to walk or talk and fed through a tube. It wasn't always this way. Her son Jorge was once a vibrant little boy. That was before hit was left brain damaged by an abusive babysitter. "Forgive me son" Dolores cries. "I wish that it would have happened to me and not my son."
Dolores describes how the sitter hit Jorge in the head with her shoe. The child's brain swelled. The sitter never took the into emergency care. Jorge was left near death. As Dolores cradles her motionless son one can't help but cry with her. The sitter, Ana Soto Cuatlayotl, now sits in prison. She was someone the family knew, described as a distant relation.
While most families will never encounter a nightmare like Dolores, other mothers tell me of their own worries. Tracy Twist tells me she fired a sitter for driving and texting with her children in the car. Darlene Ortiz says one sitter had a teen son who took off with her son without telling anyone.
All this begs the question, what we can learn about finding a babysitter? How can parents protect themselves? So how does a family best find someone to care for their child? I asked, where do families go wrong? "Background checks" says Ty Vaughn of Rainbow Nannies. When we met up with her, she was actually meeting with caregivers for nanny jobs. She tells me too many parents don't do their homework. Her agency does background checks and asks for three to five letters of recommendation. "You want to make sure they have great references and a history of caring for children." She also says to listen to instinct. If something, or someone, doesn't feel right listen to that inner voice.
Dolores Rios had no such luxury. She was at the mercy of an available sitter as she battled to make ends meet. She and her husband are fighting for their son. Dolores wipes away tears and gently touches her Jorge's face.