|A Fruitland, MD woman is facing assault charges after allegedly harming a three-year-old boy at Emmanuel Child Development Center in Salisbury. However, the woman denies intentionally harming the child. The incident occurred only days before Maryland lawmakers rejected bills that would have expanded employee access to sick leave and other family-friendly changes, demonstrating the importance of good child care in a state that is working to promote local businesses.Fay Bivens Bartley, 47, was issued a summons on April 22 on charges of second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and contributing to the condition of a child. The accusations are connected to an alleged incident on April 3, when a Wicomico Child Advocacy Center investigator filed a report accusing Bartley of improperly disciplining a child. According to the charging documents, the investigator watched a video of Bartley pulling a boy out of a time-out chair by his arm, picking up the child and then carrying him out of the classroom by his arms. She then apparently dropped him on the floor and grabbed him again by his left arm.
Following the incident, the boy suffered a wrist sprain, fingernail scratches and bruising. The investigator commented in his report that Bartley denied purposefully harming any of the children under her care, but the Emmanuel Child Development Center has reportedly terminated her employment.
Only a day after Bartley’s summons were issued, members of the Maryland General Assembly met with the Queen Anne’s County Chamber of Commerce to discuss their recent legislative session over a breakfast meeting. The four Republicans–Senator Steve Hershey and Delegates Steve Arentz, Jay Jacobs and Jeff Ghrist–reported that the session had been largely amicable and that the Assembly had seemed very focused on promoting business-friendly bills. Among those that did not pass included a proposal that would have required companies to provide their employees with 56 hours of paid sick leave a year. While the representatives said that bill would have likely benefited some workers, they said that it would have also required workers to have a minimum of 11 hours between shifts when they were not allowed to work. The lawmakers claimed that this would have prevented people from working second and third jobs that might be necessary for their financial survival. They also worried that the stipulations would have been too onerous for businesses.
Unfortunately, by blocking this bill, the Assembly may have missed out on a chance to help Maryland families: as Senator Hershey noted, the plan would have allowed employees to miss work to meet with counseling services, care for family members and more. Without reasonable allowances for families, some people will likely have to choose between their jobs and sending their children to day care centers that employ workers like Bartley. With affordable, high-quality child care increasingly difficult to find across the United States, some might not be able to find child care at all.
Due to the decreasing resources for working parents, some critics are calling for the Assembly to focus on solutions that benefit both workers and their employers. Onsite child care, for example, not only gives parents a convenient place to bring their children, but also results in increased retention, higher productivity and reduced absenteeism for employers. Will Maryland lawmakers focus on this problem in their future sessions? Only time will tell.