A Montana day care center with a history of violations is being investigated for allegedly leaving a six-month-old baby inside after it closed for the weekend, Yahoo Lifestyle is reporting. Fortunately, the infant boy was found safe and sound after about an hour.
Tanaya Merchen recently started a new job, and back in August, she enrolled her then-three-month-old Avery in Billings’ Kids R Us Childcare Center. Things were going well until last Friday, when she got off work and went to pick up Avery — like she does every day. When she got there, she found the building locked, having closed early for the weekend. Avery was either still inside, or he had been picked up by someone else.
“I had no idea what to do — I was stunned. I called the director and she drove over.”
Speaking to Billings NBC affiliate KULR-TV, Merchen says that when she spoke to the director, she — the director — already seemed to suspect that one of her employees had forgotten about Avery before closing up for the night.
“She told me, she said, ‘I am so mad. I am almost there.'”
It remains unclear, as of this writing, what kind of condition Avery was in when he was found.
A KULR-TV reporter went to speak with owner Kim Redding. A contrite Redding blamed communication errors for the incident, saying that a staff member tasked with cleaning up and locking the building for the weekend didn’t know that not all of the children had gone home for the night.
“It was a horrible mistake, and we’re sorry, and we got a damage control method just to double check all of the staff to check out the sign out sheets just to be careful, and it was a horrible mistake. I’m not downplaying it, it was a bad mistake.”
As it turns out, Kids R Us has been in hot water with Montana regulators before. As KTVQ-TV (Billings) reports, the facility has a list of complaints dating back to 2007. In 2015, for example, investigators found that a six-year-old child was subjected to “humiliation, shaming, and fright” when workers disciplined him.
In other cases, workers said that they were left to care for special-needs kids, children for whom staffers were not properly trained to care for. In another instance, an under-qualified teacher was found with 18 children in his or her care. One last complaint claims against the center claimed that medications were found improperly stored, and that workers didn’t know how to administer them.
Merchen, for her part, called the Billings Police — which in turn forwarded her complaint to Montana’s Child Protective Services.