This is a familiar scenario almost any busy parent can identify with: After a pickup miscommunication with her husband, Sharonda Ross arrived late to get her 10-month-old son Jordan from day care and found him locked alone in a crib inside.
Ross reacted like any protective mom would react. When she realized her husband hadn’t picked up Jordan like she thought, the couple rushed to Joann’s Day Care and Camp in northeast Houston, arriving just 45 minutes after the facility closed. All the staff had gone home, and the doors were locked. Through the window, Ross and her husband saw baby Jordan crying alone in a crib.
The couple decided to break the window to get him out, and this wasn’t a decision they made lightly. Ross told ABC 13 News:
Nobody’s here, no cars, no nothing. I called the day care several times on my way to make sure to see if he’s at home and on the way back and my child’s here at day care by himself, no supervision. Nobody’s here. I put my phone on record and start recording it. He breaks the window. We start breaking the glass out. He goes in and I’m still recording it the whole time. He comes (back) and there’s my baby — just left.
Here’s what’s so jarring about this story: It could happen to almost any parent. Parents juggling work, family and other responsibilities often cross wires and forget. It’s clear these parents never intended to leave their child at day care past closing — once the Rosses realized their mistake, they both rushed to the day care to pick up their son and made it in a cool 45 minutes.
The day care owner has apologized for leaving the baby alone inside after-hours and say the employee responsible will not be fired:
Every day care has policies in place to prevent this kind of nightmare from playing out. Pick a random childcare center in America, and you’ll see that a day care requires a sign in and sign out for each child. Presumably, this is for the purpose of checking that all children have been safely released to their parents at the end of the day. In order for this baby to have been left behind, the day care did not follow their own policy of checking parent sign-outs at the end of the day.
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This story is jarring for any parent with a child in day care, but it could have been even worse. Imagine if the parents hadn’t shown up in time? Yes, it’s on parents to show up on time, but it’s also on facilities to ensure that there is a caring adult on duty until every last kid has left the building.
If you use a day care for your kids, find out more about their policies. Most day cares will allow a child to stay with a provider if a parent is running late, though they may charge extra. Check to see what they do to check the building at the end of the day. Do they have a policy to check every nook and cranny the way bus drivers do to ensure no kid is left on the bus?
The sad fact is that many day cares aren’t up to par in the U.S. This is a national problem in desperate need of attention and can’t be blamed on one facility. But still. Agreeing to take care of someone else’s children as a profession is a huge responsibility. At the very least, parents need to know that these workers care that their kids get home safe.