Father: Boy, 6, left alone on day care bus in frigid temps for more than an hour
12:40 PM, Feb 6, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS - A 6-year-old Indiana boy was left on a day care bus in frigid temperatures for an hour and a half, the child's father said, and now the state is taking action.
The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration investigated the incident, and on Jan. 30 cited Little Angels Day Care in Greenwood for failure to maintain a safe environment within the bus.
While investigating the bus incident, an FSSA inspector determined someone with a substantiated case of sexual abuse was inside the day care on several occasions throughout the past nine months.
On Jan. 31, FSSA terminated the day care's certificate of registration , which means they have until Feb. 13 to shut their doors.
Matthew Kelly said he went to pick up his son Thomas at Little Angels on Jan. 23 at 4:45 p.m.
"All they said was, 'Oh, we made a terrible mistake,'" said Kelly.
Kelly said Thomas fell asleep on the day care bus at about 3:15 p.m. and awoke more than an hour later alone.
"He unbuckled his seatbelt, opened the bus door, and had to walk around the day care to find a door that was unlocked," said Kelly. "I was angry, terrified and horrified all at the same time."
Kelly finds it hard to think about what could have happened.
"It was 20 degrees," said Kelly. "He could have wandered out on the road. Somebody could have got him."
Kelly said the bus driver and the day care are not doing enough to protect children.
"Something should happen," said Kelly. "I don't think she should still be driving the bus."
At the time of the bus incident, Little Angels was a registered ministry, according to RTV6, a sister station of 41 Action News.
Registered ministries are unlicensed in Indiana and have to follow far fewer regulations than licensed centers, including staffing ratios.
Kelly said he was unaware.
"I thought a day care was a day care, they just operate out of a church," said Kelly.
Little Angels Day Care staff refused to speak on camera about the bus incident, but released a statement.
"We are in the process of cooperating completely with the proper authorities," read the statement. "We are also conducting a full internal investigation of our own. At this time we feel it is best to allow the investigation to continue and we will act accordingly to the findings."
Day care staff would not say whether the bus driver is still working there, and they refused comment when asked about the state of Indiana terminating its registration.
FSSA inspection records from June 2012 reveal Little Angels was cited for not securing a window to a baptismal pool.
Kelly pulled his son out of Little Angels immediately following the bus incident.
"They really dropped the ball on their responsibility," said Kelly.
Greenwood police forwarded the Little Angels case to the Indiana Department of Child Services.
"The law does not permit us to share anything further than to let you know DCS is involved with this case," said Stephanie McFarland, spokesperson for the Indiana Department of Child Services.
Indiana has no requirement for day cares to report when a child is left on the school bus, but school districts in the state are required to report incidents to the Indiana Department of Education.