Valdosta daycare under investigation, parent speaks out
VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) - Childcare Network, a daycare facility in Valdosta, is currently under investigation by the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) after a parent claims her daughter was left alone, outside on the playground for an extended amount of time.
Mother Blane Stone says she received a call on July 21 from management saying her 2-year-old daughter Blithe was discovered outside by a teacher who happened to glance outside the window.
Taking to Facebook with her story, Stone wrote: “I was not contacted until the later half of the day and the District Manager, Teresa, started the conversation with this description: ‘Your child is okay and well. We brought her inside and cleaned her up, gave her fluids, and made sure she ate..’ which leads me to believe she was outside for an extended period of time.”
Stone sat down with WCTV on Monday saying she’s still left in the dark when it comes to the details of the incident.
“The manager that called me told me that she couldn’t tell me what time they even went outside,” Stone said.
She said when her questions remained unanswered, she turned to local attorney Sam Dennis.
“To leave a child out that’s not being supervised or watched, it’s sort of the definition of negligence. I mean, it is to neglect this child,” Dennis told WCTV. “We expect better.”
Stone and Dennis say they were told the facility does not have any surveillance video cameras on the property, and as a Georgia daycare, they’re not required to have them.
Dennis tells WCTV it’s a change they hope to make through this case.
“It’s like body cameras on law enforcement,” Dennis said. “It protects people that they’re interacting with as regular citizens, as much as it does police officers.”
Without surveillance video footage or answers from management, Stone says she’s left wondering how long Blithe was actually left outside.
“I don’t even take a nap at my house with my 2-year-old being awake,” Stone said. “I can’t, you know, because what could happen in the time span of an hour or even 30 minutes? You know, they pick up something, they put it in their mouth.”
She says whether it was five minutes or five hours, it’s made a noticeable impact on Blithe. According to Stone, they haven’t slept well since the incident happening more than a week ago, and she’s noticing behavioral changes in Blithe.
“She’s been the best sleeper for the last year or so,” she said. “But now, she doesn’t want to go to sleep by herself. She won’t play independently by herself. She always has to have someone near her.”
Childcare Network’s corporate leaders provided WCTV with this statement on Monday:
“The safety and security of our children is always our top priority. We have a “face-to-name” procedure to ensure that each child is accounted for as we transition from playground to classroom. The teachers involved in this incident did not adequately follow this procedure and have been terminated. We will continue to provide our staff with the highest quality training and support, which will include specific information about anticipating and preventing this kind of incident in the future. We have already implemented additional playground transition procedures to ensure all children have arrived safely into the building. We will continue to support the ongoing investigation regarding this incident and will assist licensing authorities in any way possible.”
DECAL also provided WCTV with a statement on July 27 saying:
“We were able to confirm that we have an open investigation into Childcare Network, #89 located at 3584 Mt. Zion Church Road in Valdosta involving the supervision of a child on the playground. We received this complaint on July 21. Because this is an open investigation, that is really all I can say at this point. The safety of Georgia’s youngest learners is always our top priority. We will keep you advised as to any further developments.”
DECAL officials told WCTV on Monday they hope to have the investigation closed by September 3.
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