ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - FOX2 found 11 recent cases in the last 9 months. Each case involves a child care center that lost track of a child. These cases come after the highly publicized case on Christmas Eve 2012, when a child care center left a two-year old locked out in the cold for nearly 4 hours. When the Fox Files requested recent daycare complaint reports, we found that Christmas Eve case was just the beginning of kids forgotten.
Ashley Pyeatt described finding one forgotten child. Pyeatt said, 'She was screaming at the top of her lungs because she was so scared.'
Pyeatt said she was working at a title company next to Kids Play in O`Fallon, when she heard screams. She and several co-workers followed the sound to a caterpillar tunnel where they found a 2-year-old girl. Pyeatt said her colleague, 'said `what`s wrong sweetie, come here, come here, what`s wrong` and so she came out and she talked to her and she asked her what her name was so we knocked on the door to the daycare and they came out and they`re like `oh my gosh, I can`t believe she`s out there`.'
In South City, another child was reportedly left outside alone at Lemay Child and Family. A state inspection documented a wind-chill low of 12.5 degrees. Inspectors pulled a video showing the 5-year-old outside for 58 minutes, with no gloves. Inspectors looked at the video and reported seeing the child look into the window several times and also try the door several times.
The center says the teachers responsible no longer work there and it`s added cameras and new policies.
It`s just the beginning of children forgotten by childcare centers. We uncovered 11 cases in the last 9 months.
Inspectors cited Daruby Early Learning Center for dropping off a child at the wrong school. Someone saw the 3-year-old, found out where he needed to be and returned him.
Another stranger helped a child reportedly wandering outside GSL Development Center in North City. Inspectors say a construction worker found a 5-year-old girl by a locked gate in the back parking lot.
At a preschool in the Ferguson Florissant School District, inspectors say a 4-year-old cried 'I was tying my shoe and they left me.' The child was reportedly alone in a locked classroom for about '25 minutes.' The District says it immediately initiated a `corrective action plan`
Dawn Winkler with United 4 Children said, 'After one or two cases, that`s all over the news, as a child care provider, do you not look at everything you`re doing to ensure that doesn`t happen to you?'
Winkler works with an organization that helps child care centers solve problems. She added, 'I`m hoping though, that as you keep doing these wonderful reports that people start paying attention and the parents are going to take ownership. Until they`re held accountable, then the same things are going to keep happening.'
She says parents can ask questions that may give clues. Winkler explained, 'Ask what`s the teacher to child ratio? What are your guidelines to transition the children from one room to the next? If they`re going on a field trip or traveling, who's taking my child and what are their credentials?'
Winkler`s group also helps child care centers include all kids, safely. She says it's the challenge of dealing with difficult kids that can lead to someone else being left in the cold. Winkler said, 'What ends up happening is you`re spending more time with those children who need extra attention and that child who just kind of goes with the flow, is the one that gets forgotten.'
That`s consistent with the December report on Lemay Child and Family. The investigative report states 'teachers assumed (the child) was in a quiet cube by himself.'
Lemay Child and Family says it went beyond what licensing investigators demanded after the incident and it also points out that the parents of the child in this case chose to stay at this center.
Below is a spreadsheet of daycare with violations in the St. Louis area over the last 12 months.
To get a complete picture, consider going beyond our list of ‘substantiated complaints.’ The State of Missouri also lists routine inspection reports on this page where you can type in the name of your provider. Missouri Daycare Search.
Find a daycare through Child Care Aware of MO, a parent resource and online referral service.
Contact United 4 Children for help with inclusion issues at Child Care Centers.