FLORISSANT, Mo. – A daycare facility in St. Louis County just reopened under a probationary license. The Tendercare Learning Center on New Halls Ferry has been closed since December 2021, when Missouri’s Office of Childhood suspended its license for reportedly leaving a toddler outside for nearly four hours.

“It should never happen,” said Steve Fleddermann, the facility’s attorney, as he explained what went wrong. “The teacher did a headcount, and that’s not enough, because, as children will do, by the time they actually filed in, the line starts moving the child decides to go back and stay outside.”

A 2-year-old child was documented by regulators as being out alone in a fenced-in playground from 10:33 a.m. until 3:23 p.m. on that day in December. It was unseasonably warm, with temperatures reportedly in the low 50s.

“Fortunately, there was no injury in this case, but that’s not to say there couldn’t have been,” Fleddermann said.

The center’s attorney said Tendercare has changed staffing and updated policies and procedures. He said the facility has updated camera systems and door alarms and has also hired an experienced director with a Ph.D.

“Not only did they put the time in, but they put the dollars in to make the facility what it should be,” Fleddermann said.

He also said the teachers have strict instructions on how to keep track of children.

“Not only head counting, but double head counting, and face-to-face and literally touching each child as you state their names,” Fleddermann said.

He said the area that Florissant Tendercare serves is in desperate need of quality childcare.

“They also need, needless to say, safe daycare facilities, that’s always been the goal with Tendercare,” Fleddermann said. “We’re kind of proud of where we are now and welcome the kind of oversight that’s going to be happening for at least the next year.”

The current probationary license period means more inspections for a while, some of which will be surprises, so that regulators can monitor the child safety improvements.