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Chapel Hill daycare shut down after leaving toddler unattended

Posted June 19, 2015

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— The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services on Friday notified Operation New Life, a daycare in Chapel Hill, that it must cease doing business effective immediately after a daycare worker left a 2-year-old child inside a hot van for several hours on Tuesday.

According to a North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services report, the child was left unsupervised, in a facility bus, from 9 a.m. until about 3:30 p.m. The child was found strapped in a restraint device in the vehicle.

Staff members did not contact emergency personnel, or implement their emergency medical care plan, and waited “for an extended period of time” before contacting the child’s mother, Kimberly Cates.

The daycare owner, Michael Cureton, notified Cates that the child was not transported home on the bus, as normal, and said he would bring the child to their home. Cureton informed Cates of the incident, but reportedly did not give the full extent of the situation; Cureton also attempted to dissuade Cates from alerting police to the situation.

Cates took the toddler to the emergency department, where she received treatment and was given fluids for dehydration. She said her child's temperature reached 105 degrees.

"They had to give her several bags of fluid to hydrate her body," Cates said. "Luckily, she doesn't have any kidney damage or anything like that, but it could have been so much worse."

Cates is grateful that her daughter was not seriously injured.

"That is why daycares have protocols," she said. "They have rules. They have things set in place so these things don't happen. My heart was broken because she was in there for so long."

Cates said the worker responsible for leaving the child has been fired and claims the facility offered her a job and free tuition to keep the incident quiet.

Messages left at the day care center were not immediately returned.

15 Comments

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  • Wendy Ivey Jun 21, 2015
    user avatar

    Why have there been no charges filed? If a person leaves a child in a car while they are shopping they are charged with child abuse. People that leave an animal in a hot car are charged with cruelty to animals. This precious child was left for several hours and no one missed her.

  • Dan May Jun 21, 2015
    user avatar

    Poor child. Not only left in a hot vehicle all day but strapped in restraints as well. Probably had cramps and panic. She could have died. And the excuse of the person responsible was that she had her arms full? Ooops! Good grief. Glad they shut these folks down at least...

  • Scott Scheffel Jun 21, 2015
    user avatar

    The story on WRAL as originally posted stated the owner offered cates a Job and free tuition to not alert authorities. So there was an attempt at a cover up or bribe (as originally posted), Paul Jones. The original post also stated the child's temp was 105 degrees. The instant they found this child, 911 should have been called to get immediate medical care and the parent called right after 911 to alert her of the situation. Additional neglect occurred when the owner delayed medical treatment by bring the child home to the parent. Surely delaying treatment by 1/2-1 hour or more which could have made all the difference. This child is lucky to be alive and I hope it does not suffer from any long term issues. I'm a father of 3. If any of my children went to this daycare they would never go back again. It absolutely should be closed down. Sadly it will open under another name soon??!!

    Why was the story edit WRAL?? Call from a lawyer?? Ongoing investigation?? False statements??

  • Paul Jones Jun 20, 2015
    user avatar

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    What part of my comment drove you to make that statement? Was there a cover-up? No. Did the owner tell the parents? Yes. You know, the owner could have just put the kid on a bus to go home, but he took responsibility to tell the parents directly.

    Or was it my comment about the news often being inaccurate, misleading, or inflammatory? That does often sum up the news stories written here.

    The fact is, what's done is done. The owner didn't hide the fact. The responsible employee was fired.

    The only thing left is to publish this entirely one-sided story and then get people wound up. And they did.

    I just don't think we should put everyone out of a job. Sorry you disagree with that.

  • Pam Snyder Jun 20, 2015
    user avatar

    I can tell you that there are protocols for staff child ratios. We, the teacher, are responsible for EVERY SINGLE CHILD left in our care. Maybe there were too many children to adults.....we won't know. THAT is why we are TRAINED to ALWAYS count the children all through the day. ESPECIALLY if we leave the room let alone the building!! I'm very glad that the child is okay. The "teacher" should be fired and the daycare SHOULD be accountable because the other staff and OWNER knew!! At any given point ANY staff member COULD AND SHOULD HAVE called 911.....we are taught that too......why did the " other staff and owner" not call? As far as I'm concerned anyone there who KNEW has a bit of culpability. Never hide anything from a parent about their child especially if it could have caused bodily harm. My centers would never put up with this! Oh and by the way the owner was not legally allowed to take the child home without PRIOR WRITTEN PERMISSION from the parents.

  • Pam Snyder Jun 20, 2015
    user avatar

    Wow....having worked daycare forever.....

  • Pam Snyder Jun 20, 2015
    user avatar

    Wow....having worked daycare forever.....

  • Paul Jones Jun 19, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


    The news and authorities can always make things sound worse than they are. I've hard prosecutors call innocent people murderers. An innocent man was recently labeled a child molester and the news folks nearly ruined his life by parading his face and incorrect information.

    Since the owner told the parents what happened, he clearly wasn't trying to hide the event. Perhaps mistakes were made, but I'll venture to guess they were largely focused on giving him liquids and making sure he was OK.

    We do not really know what happened in those hours. What we do know is that there was likely one person responsible for the kid on the bus, the owner was upfront about telling the parents, and now everyone is out of work. Those are the facts we do know.

  • Benjamin Bridges Jun 19, 2015
    user avatar

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    Paul Jones, you didn't even read the article. See where it says staff members? The S at the end of members makes it PLURAL.

    Staff members did not contact emergency personnel, or implement their emergency medical care plan, and waited “for an extended period of time” before contacting the child’s mother,

    And you must have MISSED the part about what the OWNER of the daycare did.

    Cureton informed Cates of the incident, but reportedly did not give the full extent of the situation; Cureton also attempted to dissuade Cates from alerting police to the situation.

  • Paul Jones Jun 19, 2015
    user avatar

    This is a case of negligence, but it wasn't the daycare that did it. It was the employee who was responsible for accounting for every child. I don't think shutting it down is the right thing to do. The employee should be fired, but closing the facility means that many parents are now scrambling to find daycare for their kids and other responsible employees are now out of work.

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