Oh Great – Now They’re INVESTIGATING The Day Care Center

Dear Readers: The blog post below this one says it all –I thought: Our modern era considers it a news story when a child accidentally gets left behind on a small excursion for a small amount of time. Why? Because the underlying idea is, “What if  something BAD happened? Then it really WOULD be a story.” So the fact that this scenario even set the stage for a “What if?” story made it newsy enough. And that was that. For a day.

But now the story continues. Of course, any time there is any breach of protocol concerning children — even a single dumb, inconsequential mistake — the authorities are called in. This is because we assume childrearing is something that CAN and MUST be done perfectly or children will not survive. This kind of frenzy drives parents, teachers and caregivers crazy. It assumes zero resilience on the part of kids and insists we demand zero human fallibility on the part of all adults. Which, for the record, is impossible.

To err is human, and yet the human race survives. Why? Because we are built to be pretty sturdy — even kids. This is something our hypervigilant, hyperventilating society routinely overlooks.

Just like you can overlook a 2 year old at a park. — Lenore

29 Responses

  1. I have no problem with the place being investigated, as long as their license doesn’t get revoked over “What if” situations. Something serious actually needs to have happened for that and since no parents came out with stories of their children getting burned, scraped or worse, I doubt there is a good reason to waste any time here.

  2. And yet, we pay our college educated teachers so little and our nannies, sitters, child care providers, and nursery school teachers even less.

  3. I’ve just been reading an urban fantasy book series in which the main character opines that calling in mortal authorities (like the police) is the equivalent of a nuclear bomb due to their propensity for over reaction. Let us hope that this daycare, which was brilliant in that it actually allowed the children outside time, doesn’t end up looking like ground zero.

    I’m almost tempted to call the daycare to try to get their side of the story and then to file whatever the equivalent would be to a “friend of the court brief” on their behalf. What a shame.

  4. Gee, maybe we should just lock up the kids in a room with the TV on. At least then we’ll know where they are at all times and we won’t be held liable for every single mistake an adult makes, even if it leads to no harm. Our school stopped going on field trips precisely because of this: adults make mistakes, children nowadays have no common sense (through no fault of their own), and parents can’t wait to point a finger and call in the authorities.

    How would THEY like it if we teachers called the authorities every time a child told us something less-than-perfect that goes on at home?

  5. i think it depends on what they are investigating, is it because it is company policy says you can’t take the kids off the property, and then this happens and they want to know how often it happens. is this forgetting kids thing a habit and it happens more often then it should. be it on the play ground a room in the building or a local park. or because they want something to file criminal charges on. Things happen and when they do the bosses and higher-ups need to know how and why .

  6. montessorimatters: In the UK, I believe teachers (and docors and nurses and anyone else who comes into regular contact with the child, more or less) *are* supposed to contact the authorities when they ‘suspect abuse’.

    I presume this is to spread the blamestorm across as many agencies as possible when something goes wrong.

    H

  7. I think it’s prudent that they investigate the daycare. This item made the news – but what if it’s just the latest in a series of mishaps that didn’t make the news? Being Free Range does not mean that anything goes all the time. If a daycare is being consistently negligent, they should not be allowed to operate. If this is a one-time event, then they should be allowed to continue to operate, with some check-ups to make sure that it is just that – a one-time event. But if they’ve done this sort of thing before or if lax concern for the welfare of children is routine, then I would hope an investigation would discover that. The expectation for a daycare facility to provide quality care and fulfill their job fully is no different than expecting your bank to provide quality financial management. If my bank had an “oops” I would hope they would be investigated and shut down if they it was found to be a general lack of concern for my money. If a nursing home left an elderly Alzheimer’s patient outside, I would expect an investigation.

    Here is a link to a local news story. A daycare facility in my region left a child in a van and the child died from heat exposure. State government is looking at requiring alarms requiring daycare providers to go around to the back of the van to turn off each time the van is shut off. The idea is that if they walk around the vehicle, they would see a forgotten child.

    http://www.nola.com/news/t-p/capital/index.ssf?/base/news-8/1272955805318150.xml&coll=1

    The situation is much more extreme, but the factors are very similar – a child is left behind and, in this case, the results were deadly. We pay people to take care of young children. If they falter in that job, they should expect an investigation. That is not too much to ask.

  8. What a great legal precedent to set. Now we can be investigated for anything that “almost” or “could have” happened? As if our courts aren’t backlogged enough!

  9. Ya know, I wish more people thought “free-range” I was at the park yesterday with my 3 kids, 9,7 (both boys) and 1 (lil girl). There was only one other boy, about 5 or 6, and his parents wouldnt let him play hide and seek with my sons because when he was hiding they couldnt see him!!!! I mean, really?? Its a big wood park, the best kind for hide and seek!!! My boys got bored and we went to a different park. They didnt understand why the kids parents wouldnt let him play!

  10. I totally agree with the investigation. If it was a breech of their written policy then that’s a serious matter from a *business* perspective. I think at this point it is no longer a “free range” issue/media manipulation issue -I think it is a corporate issue and they need to have their checks and balances in place. That’s how we would respond in our consulting business if a protocol was not followed and we became aware of it.
    I know there is a whole other debate about the corporate nature of daycare, but I didn’t think that was in the realm of free-range.

  11. Maybe there should be a newer, safer game called “stand and seek,” in which kids have ten seconds to run off in various directions and then stand still while the kid who’s “it” runs around and tags them. Woo, fun.

    This story reminds me of an amusing thing in my old neighborhood in San Carlos, near SF, CA. There, there’s a business called “Open Gate Nursery School” (www.ogns.org). I never did see their gate left standing open, but passing their sign frequently generated giggles in my family.

  12. First, they kinda had to investigate after the story made the news. Otherwise the authorities would be roundly criticized.

    Second, although mistakes do happen, there does need to be a procedure in place to make sure you aren’t leaving a kid behind. I see no problem with checking to see if there is some lack of requisite training, compliance, etc. at this daycare.

    There ARE bad daycares.

    Let’s just hope the investigators manage to remain objective despite the media attention.

  13. I’m still not clear on if they actually left the kid there -the original story made it sound as if they discovered him missing when they were about to head back to the daycare.

  14. If the daycare is subject to state licensing, then leaving a kid behind is something the licensing agency needs to look into–they just shouldn’t over-react with follow up action. According to the linked story, a company spokesperson said none of the daycare workers would be fired, but they have been put on probation. This is a remarkably level-headed response given today’s one-strike-and-your-out mentality.

    As long as there’s not a history of problems at the center, a brief probationary period by the licensing agency would be appropriate, and then everyone moves on.

  15. The investigation Lenore is linking to is by Community Services, not the corporate HQ (for those posting that management needs to know why).

    I think whether it’s a good thing really depends on why Community Services are investigating. These investigations can be good, but they come at a price. The staff will be concerned – and not simply about whether their kids are safe and happy, but mainly whether all the boxes have been ticked and all the paper work completed. This detracts from the time and attention they can give to the kids and helps to encourage a more sterile atmosphere. Stress from investigations is a negative thing in a daycare that isn’t poorly run, so having reasonable grounds for an inspection is important.

    As others have said, this may be one in a series of incidents and that would be a bit of a red- flag. If that’s the case or if there’s been, say, a request from a concerned parent then I think it’s appropriate. Not knowing the circumstances, I can’t get too worked up that they are being investigated after something went wrong.

  16. The exact same thing happened to a friend of mine a few months ago. Her son (About 20months old) was left alone at a park by the daycare – for about 10 minutes. Someone else at the park noticed him, picked him up and watched over him, and notified the police because they weren’t sure how else to get him back to his daycare/parents. The police arrived just as the daycare worker returned, having realized they were missing him. The police made my friend meet them at the station with the daycare worker and the child. But in the end, no charges were filed. My friend had a long talk with the daycare director and was satisfied that this was simply an accident that wasn’t likely to ever happen again – especially given how upset the daycare worker was! Her child was back in the daycare the next day. As it should be.

  17. Ohhhh -so CPS type people are investigating?? That is just BS -aren’t those people overworked enough?

  18. I’m okay with it as long as it’s even handed and no one gets hysterical. Obviously, mistakes were made and there needs to be a protocol in place to prevent another child from being left behind.

  19. “Maybe there should be a newer, safer game called “stand and seek,” in which kids have ten seconds to run off in various directions and then stand still while the kid who’s “it” runs around and tags them. Woo, fun.”

    It is fun. It’s called “tag”.

  20. Elizabeth, when you play TAG you get to run around while it tags you.

    Lenore, about the hands that rest on top of your baybee, I’ll admit I’ve done the same thing using a stuffed animal. After you spend 15 minutes gently patting a teething kid to sleep it’s a nifty trick to KEEP them asleep. Better than standing there.

  21. At least in California, Community Care Licensing regulations for preschools are alarming in their detail and content. According to the technical regulations, if a child walks around a large tree or even *behind* you and is out of your sight, you are out of compliance and potentially negligent. Children cannot even go to the bathroom by themselves. Our school’s director was once told by a licensing agent that, if you have a group of children on the playground and the bathroom is in the classroom NEXT TO THE PLAYGROUND, you have to take the whole group of 12 children inside together each time a child needs to go. And then you have to somehow keep everyone in your direct line of sight during that excursion.

    Now, it is unlikely that a school would be closed because of violations like I have described, but they could be cited. Closure could happen if the licensing agent observed it on multiple visits – or if anything bad at all happened while a child was “unsupervised.” I’m sure that a child being left behind on an outing would be grounds for some pretty significant action, at least in California.

  22. A daycare in my town lost a child. But, this child was 7 or 8 and he got lost on the forest trails at the Uni. He was fine, but the daycare’s license got suspended and they folded.

  23. Sure, take away the outings, what the hell? while we are at it lets pad the walls, and cover the windows. How about hiring some extra staff, and Increasing the outings. Halifax is a wonderful place to explore. full of History and great kid friendly museums.

  24. I don’t understand why CPS looking into this would be a bad thing. Or why this is considered a free range issue.

    The ratio of kids to adults is rather small and the fact that no one noticed that a two-year-old child wandered off long enough/far enough that people had enough time to call the police warrants an investigation. If this is a one-time mistake, no harm, no foul. But they do need to make sure this is not something that happens often.

  25. I have worked in childcare centers and the person responsible for leaving the child will be fired. Mistakes are not allowed. I have overlooked a child and left one in the classroom who was napping well past the rest of the class. I didn’t get fired because my boss never found out. Licensing states that no child will be left unsupervised…ever. If a child needs to use the potty, you can’t even send them into the classroom alone to pee if the rest of the class is outside. It can be a daunting task when you have 2 adults and 24 little ones to keep track of. Many centers have now implemented tracking sheets. The tracking sheets require you essentially take attendance every 15 minutes ( not just roll call but face to name!). This is to be done even if you have not taken the kids out of the classroom.

  26. Yesterday my 3yo decided to be obstinate at the park and hang behind. She was alternately walking back and forth about a half mile away (near the parking lot), and sitting on the other side of a tree where I couldn’t see her. Fine and dandy. She was obviously just trying to get me off kilter and I was not up for it. I proceeded to serve my other kid her picnic dinner while occasionally glancing to confirm that Miss Obstinate hadn’t wandered further away. As other parents also occasionally looked her way, I couldn’t help thinking about this story and whether any of them would “call the authorities” on my “lost, lonely” kid. I saw someone typing on his Blackberry and thought, the next minute someone is going to document this on their phone camera, LOL. But luckily I don’t live in an area where most people are hysterical, so my kid was left to eventually get over herself and join us for some dinner. No harm done, and personal growth was allowed to happen. But, I think I’ll heave a sigh of relief once my kids look big enough to be at the park alone.

  27. Sorry, but I’m on the side of law & order on this one — especially in view of the violation of the company policy against taking the children off premises. A review of the policies and compliance history by the regulating agency is entirely appropriate under the circumstances.

    When I drop our daughter off in the morning, I fully expect her to be there for my wife to pick up that afternoon. God help them and the State of New Jersey if she ever isn’t.

  28. There are definitely cases where ‘what if’s are no big deal, but on the other hand I would have to say that some mistakes are pretty big What ifs.

    But some stuff…kids are more resilient than most adults.

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