Millbrook daycare shuts down after toddler burned, other violations

Published: Aug. 2, 2017 at 6:43 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 2, 2017 at 8:11 PM CDT
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(Source: WSFA 12 News)
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MILLBROOK, AL (WSFA) - A Millbrook toddler is recovering after his mother says he was scalded by hot milk at daycare.

The facility has had repeated violations, according to the state.

The owner said he's closing his doors, but not because of the incidents.

The Alabama Department of Human Resources confirmed Wednesday that The Learning Tree on Deatsville Highway is shutting down. DHR provided a list of repeated violations at the daycare.

The owner indicated to the state that he will voluntarily be surrendering his license and shutting down by the end of the day Wednesday.

DHR revealed that the center was on probation for other substantiated reports of offenses that happened over the past year, including a child getting out of the facility and wandering around the parking lot, which is located on a busy highway.

Wendy Parker says her 1-year-old son Caden Young was severely burned last Thursday at the daycare.

On July 27 she got a phone call from the center that her baby had been burned from a bottle warmer.

"When I got there, Caden was burnt from the top of his head, to his forehead and up under his eyes. It was scalded red. I took him to Prattville Hospital. No one could believe this happened at a daycare," Parker said. "Was no one watching him?"

Caden had been going there since this past October.

The next day, the burns blistered, leaving him with sores on his forehead.

"He says his eyes are hurting him and that his head hurts," his mother said.

It is not clear yet if he will be left with any permanent scarring from his burn wounds. He has upcoming doctor's appointments.

Wendy Parker reported the incident to DHR. She's distraught because she says she trusted her son to be in safe hands at the childcare.

"I was dependent on them to help me with my child because I work and this happens," she said.

She believes the bottle warmer and bottle with milk were set on top of a mini fridge. The teacher told her that she was busy feeding another child, Parker said.

"I think the milk scalded him. There's no telling how long they had it in the warmer. Everything came down on him because he was all wet, even his shirt," she added. "As a mother, it's just so sad. I hope he's going to be alright because look how deep those scars are on his face."

The Learning Tree has several locations throughout the state, but DHR officials stressed the the center in the Millbrook is the only one they're focusing on.

"If you make a complaint, we go out and investigate it and if it's habitual, we take appropriate measures to protect children," said the agency's spokesman, Barry Spear. "If have a problem or think there's something wrong at your center, report it. Make sure you're sending your children to a licensed center."

The owner of The Learning Tree says he is closing down because he is looking at leasing the building and because enrollment is not up.

"We are so sorry this happened," he said in reference to Caden Young. "We are good people and we try to keep the children as safe as possible."

DHR's Office of Child Care lists several substantiated complaints since April of 2016 at The Learning Tree:

  • April 19, 2016- Rough or Harsh Handling
  • Aug. 10, 2016- Staff-Child Ratio
  • April 11, 2017- Supervision At All Times
  • June 9, 2017- Supervision At All Times
  • June 9, 2017- Rough or Harsh Handling
  • June 9, 2017- Rough or Harsh Handling
  • July 28, 2017- Apparent Hazardous Conditions

Caden Young's burn incident was investigated by DHR, but a substantiated complaint had not been filed as of late Wednesday. DHR agents were at the facility on Wednesday looking into it.

DHR also lists comments on why The Learning Tree was put on probation in May of 2017:

"On April 6, 2017, a two year old child was found by someone not affiliated with the center unsupervised in the center's parking lot for an undetermined amount of time. Center staff were unaware the child was missing from the center. On April 18, 2017, the Department observed violations pertaining to transportation that endangered the health, welfare and safety of the children," the Adverse Action report states.

Jeanetta Green, director of the Child Care Services Division, wants parents to know that they can turn to DHR with daycare complaints by calling 1-866-528-1694.

Parents can also find out if there's any substantiated complaints filed against their child's daycare by contacting DHR.

"Once we receive those complaints, we investigate them and see if there's any merit to it. If there's merit to it, then we want to be able to do something as we did in the instance of this program. If probation is necessary or if we need to take further action because the health and safety of the children is what we're looking to maintain. Parents need to know they can take their children to a site and that their children will be safe at that location," Green said.

She encourages parents to make periodic visits to their child's center.

DHR provides a checklist with what to look for when choosing a daycare. To access it, click here.

When it comes to exempt center, you can still call DHR and make a complaint and the agency will share with the district attorney's office. New standards for those 400+ facilities in Alabama start in the fall.

Copyright 2017 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.