The Richmond Times Dispatch reports, Virginia social services investigators have recommended that a Henrico County day-care center be shut down after an investigation stemming from a child being left in a park turned up “systemic violations in the area of supervision.”
Licensing investigators with the Virginia Department of Social Services cited Korinne N Friends Child Development Center with 24 violations during four inspections between June 17 and July 6 — a process that began a day after two center employees left behind a 3-year-old boy after a field trip to a Henrico park.
The ensuing investigation led officials to recommend the center’s operating license be revoked, “based on the risk to children in care as a result of the serious violations,” according to a report on the agency’s website.
“There were systemic violations in the area of supervision — in violation of (state) standards and their own policies and procedures,” said Jeffrey Williams, licensing administrator of children’s programs in the agency’s central office.
“Even after the incident where they lost the child, they had actually changed some of their policies and procedures regarding supervision and attendance,” Williams added. “But during the last inspection on July 6, they weren’t following their own policies.”
The day-care center also has been notified that its status as a limited-liability company, granted by the State Corporation Commission, was canceled as of Dec. 31. The day care will be considered operating illegally if it doesn’t provide documentation by July 22 that its LLC status has been restored, the social services report says.
The Department of Social Services says it initiated an investigation on the same day the 3-year-old was left behind during a field trip to Robinson Park, about 4 miles from Korinne N Friends on Williamsburg Road. A park visitor noticed that a child had wandered out of a bathroom after other children in the group had left in a child-care vehicle, authorities said. Henrico police charged the two day-care workers responsible with misdemeanor child neglect. Both are scheduled to be tried Sept. 8.
According to the social services report, the two employees were supervising 18 children ages 3 and 4 that day at the park. About two hours after the employees and children had returned to the center, police contacted the day care to inquire if they were missing a child.
“The center was not in compliance with transportation standards,” the report says. “The child was out of sight and sound supervision.”
Investigators also determined that some of the children were sitting on the bus for the 30 minutes that it took the two employees to load the bus. One child fell asleep while waiting.
“It is not acceptable that children are required to sit in a van for 30 minutes while other children are loaded,” the report says. “The child-restraint seats should be installed properly into the van prior to placing the children into the van.”
Among other violations, investigators determined that center employees failed to conduct head counts of the children before leaving for the trip, while at the park and before they left. The center also failed to have parents sign consent forms for the trip, and the children were not outfitted with identifying information that included the center’s name and phone number.
Once social services investigators recommend that a license be revoked, the matter is reviewed by a committee, which also will make a recommendation to the department’s licensing program director. If the director backs the recommendation, the agency will send the day-care center a certified letter stating it has 15 days to appeal or 30 days to close. If the center appeals the decision, it can continue to operate until the matter is settled. The administrative process to close a facility typically takes months, or even longer, if the facility appeals the state’s decision to circuit court.