By Jimmie Ferguson
Killeen Daily Herald
The Killeen day-care facility from which a 4-year-old boy walked away has been placed on probation.
"We are putting them on probation," said Chris Van Deusen, spokesman for Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, referring to the Moore's Learning Center at 503 N. 38th St. in Killeen.
Around noon March 31, Killeen Councilman Ernest Wilkerson and others spotted the little boy walking from the day care toward Rancier Avenue, a heavily-driven highway. The boy was taken back to the day-care center to some surprised employees.
The incident sparked a four-day investigation by FPS from April 3 to 6 that resulted in the notification letter, dated April 10, that stated the probation period is from April 27 to Oct. 27.
"It's a six-month probation," Van Deusen said. "We have to give them a few days so that they can request an administrative review of the probation."
Van Deusen said Monday that his agency would not release its recommendations until the owner was notified.
Denise Moore, owner of Moore's Learning Center, said Thursday she had no knowledge of the probation.
"This is the first that I have ever heard of it, and I am the owner," Moore said in a telephone interview.
"I don't know who is feeding you all this information, but I will get to the bottom of it.
"An incident happened, and they (FPS) had to do to us just like they did anybody else ... do an investigation of that incident and that's what they did," Moore said.
As to how she felt about the probation, Moore said, "It's fair. If that's their procedure, that's what they have to do. Surely, I'm not the first day care that has been on probation before. That's something that's normal in a day-care facility, because you have different people working for you. You just can't depend on people. I can depend on myself. What people do, I can teach them, but I can't make them do the right thing.
"If we are on probation, then we are going to deal with it. And we are going to deal with it, and we are going to keep moving on," Moore said.
The list of deficiencies provided in the letter dates back to May 15, 2002, following 16 visits to the day-care center.
The letter states that Moore's Learning Center must, in part, take the following corrective actions during the probation period:
n Post the probation notice in a prominent place near all public entrances of the operation.
n Allow on request its staff, parents of children in care and the public to read the letter of notification.
n Manage the operation in compliance with the standards and the law, make assignments to staff members and supervise the staff to ensure that it carries out its assigned duties.
n Comply with all minimum standard rules for a licensed child care center.
n Hire a certified pest control operator licensed by the Texas Structural Pest Control Board to treat the areas infested with rodents.
n Hire a qualified director to be in charge of the facilities during hours of operations.
n The director must manage the operation in compliance with minimum standards and the law.
n Maintain a substitute call list of at least two staff members.
n Post child-to-staff ratio charts in each classroom.
n Maintain the building, grounds and equipment and make repairs as needed to keep children safe.
n The owner, the director and all caregivers must attend three hours of supervision training conducted by Child Care Licensing.
n The director must not be in charge of a group of children or provide transportation during hours of operation.
n The director must be at the facility during peak hours: opening, naptime and closing.
n Any staff member left in charge during the director's absence must not be left in charge of a group of children or provide transportation during hours of operations.
n Staff members placed in charge must have the authority to manage and run the center in compliance with minimum standards and the law.
n The director must conduct a name-to-face check of all the children in attendance at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. It must be documented and available for review during the duration of the probation plan.
n Any new hire must obtain supervision training before being left in charge of a group of children.
"We do place certain conditions on the operations, and we lean on them quite frequently to make sure that they are meeting all these criterias," Van Deusen said.
Contact Jimmie Ferguson at firstname.lastname@example.org