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ST. LOUIS – At least six daycares lost track of children in the last year and a half. FOX 2 found out how often it happens after reporting on shocking examples on both sides of the river.

It happened twice just this past December. In Illinois, a toddler wandered out alone near a busy Belleville road. In north St. Louis County, a toddler was forgotten outside for nearly five hours. FOX 2 spoke exclusively to childcare workers from that North County Center, called Tendercare.

“She was outside for five hours. I got sick to my stomach,” Lakeshia Turner said.

Turner says she watched surveillance video from that December day when the temperature dipped to 49 degrees. The video showed another worker at Tendercare Learning Center bringing in children from the playground while leaving behind a two-year-old.

Turner added that the worker, “Had her back turned towards the kids coming in. I’m like are you kidding me? If she would have just turned around.”

Turner says the worker responsible should have caught her mistake immediately with a headcount. Instead, a video showed the child remained outside for almost five hours.

“You’re supposed to count every 30 minutes,” Turner said.

Brittney Hayes discovered the toddler alone and outside that day when walking out to a daycare van.

“I called out her name,” Hayes said. “She did me like this (raises arm). I said oh my God. I took off running, I’m like I think her arm’s broken.”

The girl’s arm was not broken but Hayes says she was lying down in the gravel, crying.

“You know she’s a little girl. We’re supposed to protect her,” Hayes said.

Hayes and Turner say the worker responsible had no excuse and she’ll now have a permanent mark on her record. The State also immediately suspended Tendercare’s license. The facility had no comment as it works with Missouri to restore its license.

FOX 2 requested daycare investigation records to see how often children are forgotten. We found six examples throughout our region in the last 18 months.

Two were in St. Peters, including a November 2020 incident at Little Learners. Inspectors substantiated a report that “A child, four years old, was left unattended outside … for about 12 minutes.”

August 2020 at Child’s Heart Learning Center in north St. Louis County, a child was reportedly nearly hit by a car while walking down the middle of St. Charles Rock Road.

FOD 2 also recently reported on a Belleville daycare in which a toddler walked outside alone and was found by a stranger near the street. However, we only learned about that one because of a tip. Illinois regulators failed to provide FOX 2 with similar investigative reports. We’ll keep asking.

To view all of the substantiated reports on St. Louis area daycares, view the map below.