Local News

Chapel Hill daycare shut down after leaving toddler unattended

Posted June 19, 2015 3:02 p.m. EDT
Updated June 19, 2015 10:51 p.m. EDT

— 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.