Toddlers wander out of day care onto street, 2 employees fired

(Photo Provided/Melanie Libson-Dudley)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — “Ever since that happened, every day we cherish them even more.”

It’s hard to explain a mother’s love, especially Melanie Libson-Dudley’s, after a scare with her twin boys’ day care.

“It’s the most frightening news you can hear as a parent, to trust a place with your children and then getting that call, it’s terrifying,” says Melanie.

That call came last week while Melanie’s boys were at their local day care provider. The day care said three or four toddlers got out of a gate that was either accidentally left open, or that one of the kids unlatched.

That gate leads to the backyard playground, which staff say was missing a side gate.

The day care installed a gate later that day. Staff at the center say they’re installing taller, permanent gates this weekend, so kids can’t reach the latch. The gates will have springs that self-close.

Staff says all of their current gates have signs that remind people to close and latch the gate.

The state’s Child Care Licensing immediately installed a safety plan and is now investigating the condition of the building, locks and latches and proper supervision of caregivers.

The day care managers say they fired the two employees in charge of the toddlers that got loose.

“I’m just thankful to God that they’re here safe,” says Melanie of her 20-month-old sons.

Melanie pulled her boys out of the day care and she says these kind of mistakes can’t happen when children’s lives are at risk.

State records show in the last two years, the day care hasn’t had any violations. But the state still stepped in right away because this case is considered priority one.

The Department of Family and Protective Services says if a complaint alleges the day care is putting a child’s safety at risk, investigators must make contact with the facility within 24 hours.

Priority two cases give investigators 72 hours to make contact.

They can involve neglect or abuse allegations where the child isn’t in immediate danger.

Priority three cases give investigators up to 15 days to make contact with the daycare facility. These are investigations that are not time-sensitive.

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