Daycare center plans cameras

Published 10:48 am Friday, June 1, 2012


FRANKLIN—To ease the minds of parents, surveillance cameras will be installed at a Franklin daycare center where state inspectors alleged numerous violations after an unannounced visit last month.

Little Hearts Big Minds Director Sara Holland said Thursday that a surveillance system is expected to be available within the next week “at the latest.”

Parents who have a user ID and password will be able to view from their computers all areas of the facility where children are located.

Holland said seven cameras will be used. One will be on the playground, another in the hallway, and one in each classroom.

The Virginia Department of Social Services reported finding 12 violations during a surprise inspection on May 2 at the center, located off Armory Drive.

Allegations included failing to ensure hazardous substances were kept in a locked place, allegedly putting youngsters who misbehaved in a dark supply closet called “The Monster Room,” and failing to prove that all employees had criminal background checks.

The investigation was done in response to an anonymous complaint, according to Trish Meyer, licensing administrator for the Eastern Region of the Virginia Department of Social Services. She added that the agency is evaluating the matter and may consider further action.

Reaction from parents has varied from anger to skepticism.

After sending her 5-year-old daughter to Little Hearts Big Minds since she was 8 weeks old, Casey Bailey pulled her children from the Franklin facility on Friday.

“We never had a real issue until this was brought up,” she said. “My son suddenly started stuttering, not wanting to go to the bathroom or to be left alone. If he went anywhere, he wanted somebody with him. He hates having a door closed, and he sleeps with some type of nightlight. He’s overly emotional with discipline. He almost panics if told to go to his room and breaks down crying.

“When this (news) came out, everything started making sense. It’s horrible. It’s sad is what it is. To invest all this money, not just for me but other parents. Five years I’ve been using the service. It’s almost a slap in the face. My son’s 3, an impressionable age. What’s going to happen now? How is this going to affect them?

“Both of my children were pulled out Friday when my husband got a call from Social Services. We found another daycare.

“We’re having to miss work. It’s a burden for children and parents. I hate this happened. I think they (the center) should be shut down immediately. I had a very good relationship with Sara Holland. She should have known this was going on.”

Conversely, Cassie Powell remains dubious about the charges, and she will keep her two children, Charlee, 19 months, and Collin, 6 years old, at the center.

“No. No reason to change my mind. There are people speaking without knowing anything about the daycare or the people involved,” she said. “I’m very, very dumbfounded to see the awful remarks being put online. I don’t feel any different (than prior to the state report). I know other parents who don’t feel different.”

Powell added that she pays approximately $120 a week and has found the center to be the most affordable in the market.

She estimated that attendance has dropped to half of the 45 registered there.