A Brunswick child care center was shut down by the state this week after an investigation revealed it exposed children and employees to dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide and failed to properly secure children during transportation, among other violations.
The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, or DECAL, issued an intended order of emergency closure on Wednesday to Molding from the Start Childcare Center, 2334 Woodland Way in Brunswick.
“This action follows multiple violations of the rules for childcare centers which place the health, safety, or welfare of children in imminent danger,” a release from DECAL said.
Violations noted by DECAL included an inadequate number of staff caring for children, children not being secured in appropriate child passenger restraints during routine transportation, failing to conduct second checks to ensure children were accounted for after being transported, and installing a generator that exposed children and employees to carbon monoxide.
The initial complaint was made on July 6, 2022 and alleged the center on July 1, 2022, was using an improperly installed generator that resulted in three staff members and four children requiring medical attention and a hospital visit due to exposure to carbon monoxide.
“During the investigation staff made false statements and failed to report the incident as required,” the order said.
The incident resulted in a $499 fine.
During subsequent visits, DECAL’s report notes other violations, including inadequate staffing. On Nov. 2, 2022 the order said no staff members were in a classroom where a 2-year-old and nine 3-year-olds were left alone. Another classroom was then left unattended by a staff member to prepare 10 unattended 2-year-olds and nine 3-year-olds for their nap.
In another room on that day, five 1-year-old children were left alone to eat their lunch with no staff member present. There were also five infants observed to have been left alone napping in bouncy chairs while a staff member went to the kitchen.
“There were many other violations on this date such as: equipment and furniture being unclean; infant feeding seats being used without the safety straps; improper diaper changing procedures and lack of proper hygiene with hand washing; … safe sleeping hazards with infants wearing bibs while sleeping and an 8-month-old sleeping on a cot instead of a crib; infant cribs not in good repair and cots/mats not placed correctly during rest time, and a staff member was cited for not having their background check reported as required,” the order said.
On a plan-of-improvement return visit on Jan. 6, there were more violations, the order said, including more lack of supervision, using improper equipment for transportation and transporting six children in a vehicle that could only transport five.
The closure was effective immediately and will remain in effect for 21 days, during which time the DECAL will continue its investigation, the release said.
Molding from the Start has the right to an appeal and a preliminary hearing regarding the order.
Parents impacted by this situation can connect with child care resources at www.qualityrated.org or by calling the toll-free number 1-877-ALL GA KIDS. Parents will be assisted in locating child care options at no cost by DECAL.
A phone call from The News was not returned on Friday by Molding from the Start Childcare Center.