Aubrey Morales is warning parents about the San Diego County day care that lost her child and reminding families to be more diligent when looking for childcare. In a few Facebook posts last week, she shared an incident that has sparked outrage among a military community in Tierrasanta, California.
At first glance, Evelyn Family Childcare, run by Evelyn Woodley Hernandez, seemed like the right fit. Hernandez had children of her own, was the wife of a deployed serviceman and catered to military families.
But according to Morales and NBC 7, on January 8, three children ages 2, 3 and 4 walked away from the daycare. The kids were reportedly walking barefoot in the rain for almost half an hour before a neighbor found them.
"The mother of a man who lives in housing found the children in the middle of the road, took them to their house, set them on their patio out of the rain and called the cops," Morales wrote.
Morales had two kids in Hernandez's care, including her 3-year-old son, who was one of the missing children. She said when she had gone to pick up her kids on that day (not yet knowing what had happened), Hernandez had mentioned that parents were accusing her of losing three kids but denied the children were from her day care.
It wasn't until five days later, on January 13, that Morales found out that her son was one of the three kids.
"I get a message from a wonderful woman who witnessed the discovery of the children. She identified one of the missing children as mine, she told me what my son was wearing on Monday, and she even used his name," Morales wrote. "I'm not sure what happened and what Evelyn Woodley told the cops, but I was never informed by authorities, the licensing office or CPS that one of the children who went missing was mine. I received confirmation from the man that one of the children was in fact mine. I have two eye witnesses who identified all three of the children."
Chelsea Bezdichek's 4-year-old daughter was one of the other missing children. Bezdichek had never before left her daughter in anyone else's care but her parents' for a full day—so hearing about what had happened on the very first day of day care was a big blow.
"I could have lost my daughter," Bezdichek told NBC 7. "She could have been kidnapped. She could have been hit by a car."
The parents are confused as to how the toddlers could have left the facility undetected and why the police didn't file a report or criminal charges.
According to Department of Social Services records, the day care has been cited nine times for violations since it opened in July 2016. Hernandez's license is now suspended.
"I just got chills. I toured her 'day care.' She was begging me to have my daughter go to her day care and I got a weird feeling about it all. Kept ignoring her texts and calls and went elsewhere. Holy cow, am I glad I didn’t and listened to my gut!!!" commented one mom.
Horror stories like this are a parent's worst nightmare and can exacerbate fears and guilt parents often have over leaving their children. To help bring you peace of mind, try these 13 important questions to ask when choosing a day care and look for these 10 signs of a good day care. And remember, just because your children are in someone else's care, doesn't mean you love them any less.