In Good Hands

In Good Hands is a book about the importance of safe day care. It’s also the story of one family day care that parents loved even after a baby died. They continued to drop off their children after a second infant died in the home. Doctors ruled that both children were victims of sudden infant death syndrome, but that didn’t stop the police from launching a criminal investigation.

What followed was a medical and psychological mystery that divided a South Carolina community. The twists and turns rival the best crime fiction. Three murder trials over six years didn’t answer all the questions—or banish lingering doubts.

This is a book full of questions. There is still disagreement about what happened in that home, and who (if anyone) was responsible. The book also explores the challenges parents face when hiring a caregiver, and the emotional bonds they sometimes develop that can make severing the relationship agonizing—even when children’s lives may be at stake.

This is also a book filled with answers. It offers a wealth of advice from experts who urge parents not to assume that their job is done after they select a facility. That’s when the real work begins.

I’ve posted three chapters to give you more information. The Foreword provides an overview. Chapter 2 pulls you into the story itself. And the Appendix features interviews with two experts about how to keep your loved ones safe. As the second interview makes clear, the lessons in these pages aren’t limited to parents of young children. They are just as valuable for people seeking safe care for other vulnerable individuals, like the elderly or people with disabilities.

POP QUIZ

I was once a high school English teacher. And I still remember how to write test questions. Here’s one related to my book.

How can you be sure that your child in day care is safe?

a) The day care I chose was highly recommended.
b) It’s fully licensed and government-approved.
c) My son’s provider loves him as much as I do.
d) All of the above.
e) None of the above.

The correct answer is “none of the above.” Recommendations may be helpful in selecting a facility, but they’re no assurance your child will be safe. The government may check, but you can’t count on the government to effectively monitor day care. And banking on a provider’s good will is no substitute for your own watchful eyes.

Media Coverage

Articles about and prompted by the publication of In Good Hands

Photos

Prosecutor Johnny Gasser (left) and Josh Cutro speaking to reporters after Gail Cutro’s appeal was argued before the South Carolina Supreme Court.

Samples from the Book

Foreword

The introduction to In Good Hands, written by the author.

Chapter 2

On the day that started everything, the lead investigator thought that the hardest part of her day would be speaking to a roomful of coroners in Charleston, South Carolina. She was wrong.

Appendix: Interviews with Two Experts

Flora ColaoNora BaladerianFlora Colao (left) and Nora Baladerian offered practical advice about how to keep children in day care safe. The second pointed out that her comments are just as germane to the care of a host of other vulnerable individuals with whom she has worked, including the elderly, people with disabilities, and patients in hospitals or rehab facilities. Neither of these experts was shown the manuscript of In Good Hands in order to ensure that their answers were independent and based entirely on their own knowledge and experience.

Articles Published by The State

A number of articles published by The State newspaper (in Columbia, S..C.) were mentioned in the book and listed in my Selected Bibliography. To facilitate online access to archived articles, The State has permitted me to make seven of them available here.