State orders Macon day care closure after child allegedly left in van

State orders Macon day care closure

lfabian@macon.comApril 18, 2014 

After an anonymous complaint that a 5-year-old was left in a Macon child care van for more than four hours Monday, the state is closing the day care center.

Georgia’s Department of Early Care and Learning ordered the emergency closure late Thursday of Charlotte’s Webb Learning Center at 4060 Napier Ave., according to Reg Griffin, chief communications officer for the department.

“Emergency closures are used by the agency when it is determined that children attending the center are in imminent danger,” Griffin said in a statement.

Monday’s high reached 81 degrees at 1:40 p.m., but the time the child was discovered was not initially released.

A similar episode in Jonesboro resulted in the death of a child in June 2011, according to the agency.

The center was open for business Friday morning when The Telegraph phoned. It can remain open for now, pending appeal of the state directive.

Owner Charlotte Perkins said she didn’t know about the order.

“I’m fixing to check into it,” said Perkins, with children’s voices in the background.

Although Perkins said to call back later, the day care center door was slammed in the face of a Telegraph reporter seeking further information about the incident.

An unidentified woman standing in the doorway appeared to be taking video from her cellphone before the door was shut abruptly and locked.

Knocks went unanswered, but one of the women inside put her hand up to the small window in the door. Someone appeared to continue filming through the blinds of one of the front windows.

Charlotte’s Webb manager Jerneicey Crowder answered the phone a few minutes after the lights were turned off inside.

Crowder said she had nothing to say about the incident because she was not there when it happened.

Crowder also said Perkins was not on the premises.

Griffin said Charlotte’s Webb has 48 hours to appeal and can remain open during that time.

He received word Friday morning that the center would appeal and a hearing would be scheduled for next week.

DECAL’s investigation found violations of rules regarding transportation and supervision of children.

In an alert to Georgia’s nearly 6,000 child care programs and more than 30,000 parents, Commissioner Bobby Cagle wrote, “The (Macon) provider completed the transportation paperwork indicating that adults had checked the vehicle twice. I submit to you that if the vehicle had been carefully checked by two adults, that child would not had been left in the vehicle.”

The agency investigates complaints, and Griffin did not think local authorities had been alerted to the incident.

The department encouraged parents of children attending Charlotte’s Webb Learning Center to find alternative care by contacting child care resources at www.allgakids.org or at 877-ALL GA KIDS.

Griffin said the agency’s investigation is complete, but it continues to work on internal quality control procedures.

According to DECAL records, 18 children have already been left in child care vehicles so far this fiscal year.

Last fiscal year, 17 children were left in child care vehicles, down from 21 during fiscal 2012.

“DECAL will take swift and decisive action when providers fail to comply with rules governing transportation, and we will use our enforcement authority to ensure that this trend does not continue,” Cagle said. “I also intend to encourage criminal prosecution of those responsible for transporting children who fail to ensure that no children are left on the vehicle upon reaching their destination.”

The agency asks parents to contact law enforcement if they ever see a child unattended in a vehicle.

To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303

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