One of the first rules of daycare is that children are not Starbucks orders. If you take someone else’s by mistake, it is a very big deal! That appears to be news to a Florida daycare this week that sent a four-year-old off with a complete stranger and took hours to figure out what had gone wrong.
According to the Daily Mail, Florida mother Holly Smith went to pick up her four-year-old daughter, Emily, from daycare this week. But when she arrived to get her daughter, Emily was gone, and the daycare told Smith that her coworker had already taken the girl, as per her instructions.
Holly Smith had made no such instructions. She had no idea who took her daughter, and neither did the daycare. That’s how Smith was the first person to realize her daughter had been taken and she was the one to call 911, not the daycare.
Smith’s 911 call lasted more than 10 minutes, and the sobbing mother told 911 dispatchers that someone masquerading as her coworker had stolen her daughter from the daycare. The daycare employees say that the woman who took the little girl showed ID and said the girl’s mother had told her to pick her up, but the employees did not write down or remember the name on the ID. The school was supposed to have security cameras covering the whole place, but it turns out those weren’t actually working when the little girl was taken.
This reportedly went on for two hours, and as the daycare was about to close, they realized another girl in Emily’s class had not been picked up yet. That girl’s mother had been the one to send a coworker to pick up her daughter, and the woman was given the wrong girl by mistake. The other mother’s coworker eventually brought Emily back and reunited her with her frantic mother.
This is like a seven-layer dip of incompetence that is only made worse by the daycare’s statement, which basically implies that the daycare didn’t screw anything up, and everyone was fine in the end, so it doesn’t matter.
“On Friday, there was an incorrect pairing of parent and child at school dismissal,” the daycare wrote. “The child’s parent had made advanced arrangements to have a friend pick up the child. The friend had never met the child before. When she arrived at the center, she provided proper ID to prove she was the parent’s appointee.
“Apparently, this appointee retrieved the incorrect child. Immediately upon discovering the inadvertence, the center was able to effect the correct pairings. All children were safe and accounted for within a short time.”
The daycare is talking like it did nothing wrong, despite the fact that the woman could have had 12 IDs, but she still wasn’t supposed to leave with the child she took. Emily’s parent made absolutely no arrangements to have her daughter leave the building with anyone.
The school even said that “immediately upon discovering the inadvertance, the center was able to effect the correct pairings.” That is some deep bullshit, daycare. The 911 call was ten minutes long, and Smith says she was in “pure hell” for two hours, because her daughter was gone and nobody knew where she was or who had taken her. If there was time for a 10-minute 911 call, and time to check the tapes and realize the cameras weren’t working, and for Smith to sit there for two hours convinced she’d never see her daughter again, then you do not get to use the word “immediately” in that situation. Two hours is a long time for a missing child, and you definitely do not get to blame the other woman for the mix-up and then take credit for “effecting the correct pairings” when the other woman brings her back.
According to the Florida Department of Children and Families, the facility could face a $500 fine if the department finds that they screwed up. $500 seems like a pretty tiny consequence for this degree of a fuckup.