TODAY   |  August 03, 2013

Parents push for tighter home daycare regulations

Millions of young children across the country spend their days in daycare, and a couple who lost their young daughter are now speaking out in hopes of warning other parents about the potential risks. NBC’s Janet Shamlian reports.

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>> you are like millions of families who need it, you know it can be scary the to put your child in someone else's hands. a cautionary tale from a couple who thought they did everything in their power to protect their baby girl . they are warning other parents before it's too late. here's janet shamlian .

>> welcome to the world .

>> reporter: for ellie and cameron, the birth of their daughter camden after several miscarriages felt like a miracle.

>> i love you!

>> she was happy. she loved hugs and kisses.

>> reporter: because they both work day care was a necessity. the virginia couple approached the search like a job. they talked to parents, visited home day cares and ran a background check on the woman they chose. then cameron got a frantic call from the day care . 3-month-old camden stopped breathing.

>> it was indescribable, heart dropping. she was frantic. so i dropped the phone and drove over there.

>> reporter: they raced to the hospital to find doctors and nurses trying to do what proved impossible. did you know you lost her?

>> the doctor said, i'm sorry. there is nothing we can do. that's when i knew she was gone.

>> reporter: her death was ruled sids but the family believes they lost her due to neglect. they say police photos indicate she was on an adult-sized bed with a large body pillow around her. dangerous conditions for a baby. they believe she pushed herself onto the pillow and suffocated. police found marijuana and methamphetamine in the home. the caregiver is facing drug charges and has not entered a plea. her lawyer had no comment.

>> reporter: you both did everything you could. you went beyond.

>> we thought we did.

>> yes.

>> but we didn't. virginia doesn't protect its children and educate its parents.

>> reporter: while the woman watching camden had safety training the family can barely believe she wasn't required to have her home inspected. her buzz was unregulated, unmonitored and all perfectly legal. that's because virginia is one of eight states allowing home day cares to watch up to seven children without a license.

>> we need quality licensing and standards across the country. it doesn't exist.

>> everything is the same. this is the bib she wore the morning before she went to day care .

>> reporter: it's been hard to move on, especially after they learned the caregiver used several aliases and had a long criminal history. nothing will bring camden back. they are channelling sadness and anger into action. they want the laws changed to require licensing, federal background checks , training and inspection.

>> i need to know there are parents out there seeing this. grandparents seeing this and they are getting the warning we didn't have.

>> reporter: there is no possible recovery from losing a child. for this couple, there is hope. ellie is expecting in december. for "today," janet shamlian , nbc news, virginia .

>> such a tough story.

>> it is. so hard for a parent to leave that you are child. for many of us it's necessary. in most families, both parents have to work.