BARBERTON, Ohio — A Clinton mother is outraged and looking for answers after her young son got out through a front door at a Barberton child care center and ended up in a street that can be very busy.
Amy Hunt is raising concerns over security measures and is also frustrated by how long it took the center to notify her about the situation involving her 2-year-old son, Cooper.
The incident happened around 11:20 a.m. on Wednesday at Loving Cup Kids Academy on 31st Street.
"Your mind starts going to where like your kid— what could have happened— and that's pretty devastating," Hunt said. "Obviously, he wasn't under the care he should have been. I mean, your kid is in the middle of a busy street."
Barberton Police responded to the center after receiving a call about a toddler in the roadway. When officers arrived, the child was back inside the building.
Officer Marty Eberhart said a teacher or an aide immediately ran after Cooper and grabbed him out of the street. Police said it was fortunate the boy wasn't hit by a car.
"It could be a tragedy because, you know, a young child runs out into traffic. They don't know to yield, or things like that, and they get hit by a car and then it's a lot worse. Thank God, that didn't happen," Eberhart said.
In a statement to News 5, Annette Diotalevi, Executive Director of Loving Cup Kids Academy, said the goal of the company is to provide a safe and loving environment.
"With that being said, we regret the incident occurred. The child opened the door of our Gross Motor Area and ran out of the building. The child was never out of sight and sound of the teacher as she chased him. We are in full compliance and met the staff/child ratio, as we always adhere to state regulations," Diotalevi said.
Hunt said it shouldn't have been so easy for a 2-year-old "to escape" and feels safety measures were lax that day.
"Obviously, there's security breaches that happened. I don't think my son actually opened the door. I think the door was propped open, personally," she said.
Hunt said she's equally bothered by the notification process. She said an employee didn't tell her what happened until about five hours after the incident.
"How do you not call a parent and make sure that they're aware that they (Cooper) ran out into the road? Cops were called. All the parents should have been notified," Hunt said.
In the prepared statement, Diotalevi addressed that issue.
"Unfortunately, due to the transition and the officers arriving to question the teachers, the phone call to the family was not made immediately after the occurrence because the child was safely back in the building. The director was not in the building due to a family emergency. Upon arrival, the director was informed of the details of the incident and then notified the family," Diotalevi said.
Police said no charges were filed, but an officer made several recommendations on how to secure the facility better and issued a warning.
"This can't continue, and if things would continue to where kids are getting out, there's a definite possible charge of endangering children at that point," Eberhart said.
Hunt is grateful that Cooper is safe, but he will no longer attend the center.
"I'm going to be pretty cautious of anybody else caring for my kid from here on," she said.
The center's full, unedited statement can be read below:
Our primary goal of our company is to provide a safe and loving environment, quality care and to maintain a unique relationship with our families. With that being said, we regret the incident that occured. The child opened the door of our Gross Motor Area and ran out of the building. The child was never out of sight and sound of the teacher as she chased after him. We were in full compliance and met the staff/child ratio, as we always adhere to state regulations. We are grateful that the child was escorted safely back to the center by his teacher within minutes of the incident. Our teachers respectfully maintain the highest standards of integrity and quickly notified our corporate office. Unfortunately, due to the transition and the officers arriving to question the teachers, the phone call to the family was not made immediately after the occurrence because the child was safely back in the building. The Director was not in the building due to a family emergency. Upon arrival, the Director was informed of the details of the incident and then notified the family.
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