PLANTATION, Fla. – A mother was forced to call 911 after she showed up to pick up her 2-year-old daughter at a daycare center and found the doors locked, the lights off, and her child left alone inside.
On Tuesday, Feb. 15, just after 6 p.m., Stephanie Martinez arrived at the KinderCare Child Care Center in Plantation and it looked closed.
Samantha Scaramellino, who is the little girl’s aunt, told Local 10 News that Martinez had called her hoping that she had picked up 2-year-old Anastasia at the daycare. Scaramellino said she told Martinez she did not have her niece.
That’s when Martinez saw her daughter inside the daycare alone, peering out of a door’s window, and she called 911.
“She is inside the daycare. She just came up to the door,” Martinez told the dispatcher.
The dispatcher asked: “She is inside by herself?”
Martinez said: “Yes, she’s crying. She’s inside by herself.”
Plantation Police and Fire arrived and forced the doors open to let the child out. Fortunately, she was OK. It is still not known how long the toddler was left inside the building alone before her mother arrived.
Local 10 News went to the daycare to ask if anyone knew why the child was left inside. Staff members referred us to their corporate number.
Scaramellino said she did get a response from the daycare and that they told her it most likely happened because of “short staffing.”
An official statement from a KinderCare spokesperson said that the staff members involved have been placed on administrative leave while the company looks into the incident.
KinderCare Learning Centers is a chain of child-care facilities around the United States and is based in Portland, Oregon.
KinderCare released a statement in response to the incident.
“At KinderCare, nothing is more important to us than the safety of the children in our care. While we’re thankful the child was quickly found and was safe, this incident should not have happened.
We take all concerns about children’s safety seriously and follow a specific protocol anytime an issue is raised. Part of that protocol includes notifying our agency partners, like state licensing and Child Protective Services, as we did in this case . . .
As these investigations take place, we’ll also take immediate steps to ensure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again. All of our teachers and staff will be retrained on proper child supervision. They’ll also receive additional training on child care best practices as part of the curriculum we already had planned for all teachers and staff at our centers across the country for Professional Development Day on Monday.”
The girl’s mother told Local 10 News: “It’s the worst feeling in the world. You can’t do anything.” Martinez said her toddler was “shocked. She just came straight to me . . . would not let me go.”
Martinez said that because the lights were turned off and Anastasia was left in the dark, she is now having a difficult time sleeping.
“I just want them to be held accountable. I don’t want this to ever happen to anyone else,” Martinez said.
Plantation police are investigating.