Sep 29, 2017

Toddler Escapes Early Learning Center, Staff Fail to Report Critical Incident to Parent, Department

KENNER, La. - The Louisiana Department of Education on Thursday revoked the license of an early learning center in Orleans Parish and terminated its public funding after a toddler escaped the facility and hid near a vehicle in the parking lot before being found and returned. Staff reported the critical incident to neither the child's parent nor the Department's Division of Licensing.

"We are thankful this young child is safe, but we cannot ignore the negligence displayed by this early learning center," said State Superintendent John White. "It failed in its responsibility to care for its students, and for that, there are consequences."

The Department inspected Alphabet Pre-School, at 2605 21st Street in Kenner, on September 14 after receiving a complaint the previous day that a 3-year-old girl was found hiding near a large silver truck in the parking lot of the facility, which is not enclosed and near a busy road. Another child's grandmother was leaving the facility that afternoon, after picking up her grandchild, and discovered the toddler. After asking other adults in the parking lot if the child belonged to them, the grandmother escorted the young girl back to the front door of the center and returned her to a staff member who was near the doorway. At that same time, it is reported staff were inside searching for the missing child. It is unclear how long the child was outside of the center.

This center is now ineligible for public funding through the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), which helps make child care more affordable for low-income families. The Department has alerted families affected by this action and is working closely with them to identify safe, quality alternative options.

Alphabet Pre-School has 15 calendar days from receipt of the notice of revocation to appeal the Department's decision. Providers who have had their licenses revoked are ineligible to apply for licensure for two years. Operating a child care center without a license may result in an order to cease and desist, as well as an injunction from a court prohibiting the continued operation of a child care center without a license and placement on the statewide registry of individuals prohibited from operating a child care center.

# # # # # #