While 2017 has already been filled with day care horror stories, one New Jersey mom is grateful to have her toddler back safe and sound. And it's all thanks to a good Samaritan at the park.
ABC 7 reports on Friday, Lynda Deshommes dropped off her 18-month-old, Nathaniel, at First Adventure Day Care Center. The kids were taken on a field trip to West Side Park in Newark, but when they left, Nathaniel was left behind.
It was a good thing another mom, Jennifer Ewens, was there. When Nathaniel had grabbed onto her leg and wouldn't let go, Ewens realized the toddler was alone. She tried to comfort him while watching her her own daughter and nephew.
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A day care worker had returned to get Nathaniel but didn't know his name, so Ewens tapped into her inner mama bear instincts and refused to let go of the boy while waiting for police to arrive.
"I didn't want her to take the baby and pretend like nothing happened," she told ABC 7. "Even when you're in the park with them, you can't turn your back for a second. Because you never know what can happen."
Deshommes was terrified when she got a call at work. She is looking for a new day care but says no matter what day care her toddler goes to, she's still going to worry about him from drop-off to pickup time.
The case is currently being investigated by the state's childcare services.
Day care neglect and abuse is a parent's worst nightmare, especially with the relentless news of incidents recently. A 4-year-old drowned in a pool at an Illinois day care last year, a 1-year-old in Indiana was found bloodied and beaten, and most recently, a childcare worker in North Carolina breastfed a lactose intolerant baby without the mom's permission.
When choosing a day care, be sure to ask these 13 important questions, like "Where do the babies sleep?" and "How do you manage discipline if my kid gets bit or hits another kid?" Inspect each day care you visit to ensure it's clean and safe. Watch how the children and staff interact and ask about employee training policies. Make sure there's adequate adult supervision for the number of kids they care for.
When in doubt, look at state child care records or child abuse registries. For example, in Kansas all a parent has to do is have the caretaker sign a release of information form, then send the form along with a $10 fee to the Department for Children and Families. In Missouri, you can use a toll-free line to request background information on a registered child care worker or licensure status information on a licensed child care provider through the Family Care Safety Registry.
And lastly, trust your mom instincts. No one knows your child better than you.