Outraged Mother Says Toddlers Wandered Off From Daycare Center

"I am physically ill when I think about what could have happened to these kids," mother tells Patch.

Teachers at a Bethesda daycare center have been fired for apparently allowing a 2-year-old boy and three other toddlers to wander off unattended, ABC7 reports.

Parent Wendy Rhein said when she arrived to pick up her son just before 5 p.m., Oct. 15, at the Bethesda Lynbrook Children's Center, the boy had wandered into the neighborhood with three of his classmates and was being walked back to the facility by a good Samaritan who found the children.

"He was yelling, 'Lynbrook, Lynbrook you've lost your kids,' " Rhein told ABC7.
"That's when I saw one of his caregivers coming off the playground with one child, and I just started yelling to her, 'What happened? You lost four out of eight kids, what happened?' and she didn't even know how to answer. She just said, 'I don't know.' "

The Montgomery Child Care Association, Inc., which manages the facility, gave this statement to ABC7:

"We regret this incident occurred and have taken immediate and decisive action. We have conducted an investigation into this incident and the teachers involved have been terminated."

The director of MCCA has also ordered an audit of the school, ABC7 reported.

"The teacher wasn't even aware that they were gone," Rhein wrote in an email to Patch. "Half her class, gone. I am physically ill when I think about what could have happened to these kids ... as a storm was rolling in, outside on their own, as it was getting darker."

gjc October 18, 2012 at 12:21 PM
That's not a bad ratio. You just need to pay attention. Many mothers have had 8 kids over the years and managed just fine without losing any kids. Additionally, the now extremely expensive day care will be even more so if the ratio is reduced. Let's just use some common sense here folks.
Galndixie October 18, 2012 at 12:46 PM
My thoughts exactly!
Heather October 18, 2012 at 12:48 PM
I know exactly how you feel my 18 month old and one of her classmates were found outside in 100 degree weather in NC the the teacher so call had no idea they were out there. The direct and district director tried covering up the event by telling teachers not to explain fully what happen to my child when I ask only give me the bare minimum. The incident occurred sometime around noon I wasn't notified until 4:30 when I got there she had a bruise on her head that of course they didn't know where it came from. An Investigation was done and the conclusion was child neglect as well as the investigator believes the children purposely put outside. Pisses me off everytime I think about it! My daughter had a baby stroke when she was born there's no telling what the extreme heat could do to her. I have really contemplated sueing the daycare company not for monetary sake just for the sake of the children that have no choice but to go to daycare. parents should not have to worry about their children, daycares are suppose live up to their promises.
TERRI C WALLACE October 18, 2012 at 01:06 PM
chris October 18, 2012 at 02:30 PM
This is not the first time that has happened at that Center. Others have gone on record warning management to take action and management failed. Yes, firing the teachers was needed HOWEVER, that is a band aid. A full investigation should occur and previous staff warnings to management need to be heeded at this point in time.
Al Shumate October 18, 2012 at 02:41 PM
This sounds like a well planed Escape and Evasion Operation. The kids have been planning this for weeks. You all never watched “Hogan’s Heroes” or “The Great Escape”. This to me sounds like a well planned operation.
Tgrammiex4 October 18, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Don't they have alarms on all exit doors? Maybe they should? They're lucky they got all 4 back in this day and age.
Joe Thomas October 18, 2012 at 03:18 PM
Physically ill? Give me a break. It sounds like you are not a stable person. The kids went for a walk and came back. Move on.
Joe Thomas October 18, 2012 at 03:19 PM
I would agree. Little incidents like this have been happening since the days of the one-room schoolhouses. Its just that we find out about them now because of the Internet.
Ruth October 18, 2012 at 03:45 PM
I used to work in a daycare center many years ago. I remember coming in one afternoon and one of the 2 year olds told me "we went to ___" A grocery store across the street. I said, "I didn't know you were going on a field trip." Turned out the two kids, both 2 years old mind you, dug a hole, tunneled under the fence and got out UNNOTICED wandered across the busy street, across the parking lot and into the store where a cashier finally realized what happened and brought them back. They were never even missed! I was told "Don't tell the parents" Are you Kidding me! I didn't have to tell the parents. It was such an adventure for them they couldn't wait to tell me, let alone tell their parents! Nothing ever was done. Needless to say I quit.
Denise Carmen October 18, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Well she must have been doing something else! I guess she's not going to tell us (perhaps she was in the bathroom snorting lines).......who knows? The octomom comment was great! One would think If anyone was dippy enough to lose 4 kids, it would be octomom, not a daycare 'professional'.
Denise Carmen October 18, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Straight off of a 'Rugrats' episode! (Glad they didn't get too far and were safe)
E. J. Ragan October 18, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Joe, if anyone is unstable here, it's you. These were toddlers, as in little bitty kids barely past being babies. They could have easily been run over in the streets or picked up by perverts.
Faith Devine October 18, 2012 at 09:06 PM
Heather, Just the fact that daycare centers leave their doors unlocked is dangerous enough. My daughter once had a stalker who delighted in calling her at night and telling her what my then 3 year-old grandson had worn to daycare, that day! I much prefer a home daycare, with a grandma aged daycare provider. But wherever one leaves their child, it is good to come back unexpectedly. Ask your boss for an early or late lunch hour, occasionally, or take time off as you would for a medical appointment. Anyone who is offended by this shouldn't be watching your child. Daycare center employees are minimum wage earners with no marketable skills. They're rarely there because they love children.
Jan Purple October 19, 2012 at 02:02 AM
Honest, I believe that woman was on a cell phone probably for hours. This story terrifies me.
Joe Thomas October 19, 2012 at 02:14 AM
Oh yes that's a great idea. Alarms on the doors. Everytime some goes out the door an alarm would ring. Try another idea.
Carol October 21, 2012 at 04:25 AM
I am just glad the mother was there too see what happened. I wonder if this is the first time the children wondered off.
Amy Deane October 21, 2012 at 11:21 AM
Thankfully none of the children were harmed. I disagree that it shouldn't be dismissed as a non-event. The incident deserves the utmost priority, not for what harm came to the children but for the potential harm had they not been found and returned. I'm not rushing to blame an individual, but certainly there needs to be an assessment of the center's policies and procedures so that toddlers aren't able to go on "adventures". As example, you don't let a toddler play with matches because they could start a fire harming themselves or others, doesn't mean they will but you still don't leave matches within their reach. Same premise, in my eyes at least, applies to maintaining a head count for toddlers on the playground. We dont have all the details and facts but its irresponsible to dismiss without further investigation by simply attributing the incident to child's play.
Polly October 21, 2012 at 11:30 AM
As a mom, I'd be pissed too. I remember when my son was in daycare 20+ years ago, when those 2 - 4 were routinely but on busses and taken someplace else and the parents were never ever told. I just happen to ask my son the right questions one day and put it all together. Apparently, they were over the limit for kids and had to remove many to be at or below the limit. This was a highly regarded center with local ownership and a few centers.
Robert Rey October 21, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Yup, keep sending your kids off to strangers when you should be doing it yourself. This is a perfect example of why moms need to care for their children. Among not the least to say children do much better in life when cared for by their mother. Not my opinion, just the facts.
ROBERT SCHROEDER October 21, 2012 at 02:44 PM
ROBERT SCHROEDER October 21, 2012 at 02:47 PM
Thank God for the good person who found them, bless them. I hope that the teachers who got fired will go to court [think it may be a crime?].
Bill Howard October 21, 2012 at 04:27 PM
@Jade in some counties she can be charged for that. Also, the center should have had the proper barriers to prevent this as well. I am glad the kids are alright. I worry more about other parents driving fast when I got to get my child. Please, everyone slow down arount childcare centers.
Bill Howard October 21, 2012 at 04:31 PM
E.J. Ragan You are so right. It only takes a moment and then its tragic. People don't see little kids while they text and drive, weirdos are out there and a storm was coming. When it comes to caring for kids...paranoia can be healthy.
PerryHallParent October 22, 2012 at 09:53 AM
I have made a LOT of sacrifices over the years, going without a lot of luxuries, but I have always stayed home with my children. I live in a smaller house, drive a more modest vehicle and take fewer vacations, but it's been worth every moment. I also realize that not every family can do that either, but it's worked for me. I don't chastise others for having to work though. Daycare is expensive and should be a safe and nurturing environment to send your children and those in charge should be 100% consistent in their policies and procedures. Although they were returned safely and without harm, this should be a wake up call to those with children in care to pop in unexpectedly and keep closer tabs on who is watching your children.
FiFi Griffin October 22, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Mr. Rey: The wifey in your cave over yonder is calling for you! Seriously. Both parents (FATHER and mother) can care for the children. I like how your Neanderthal ways came out in your response. If you are talking about having kids stay home, and be cared for by a parent, I might just agree, but a father can do it too. Please crawl back to the cave you ambled out of ... your message (albeit well meaning) stinks. I'm just as offended by your comments then by the story itself!
Green7 October 28, 2012 at 03:18 AM
It all starts with management... for years that organization had poor management and training procedures, and it's not the first time this particular daycare lost their kids, a few years back there was an incident and I am sure not the only other one, this time finally a parent spoke up and got media attention, otherwise MCCA just wants to play it down instead of organizing and giving tools to the employees to better manage children, but seriously 4 out of 8?! how such incompetence was missed? Must be incompetent management. They had outside help for some time prior to this incident in order to reorganize association (maybe that's who they are redirecting calls to?), I see they still have same old issues. Also, poor working environment leads to high turn over and once again the poor orientation starts a new cycle full of holes and opportunities to have many failures. So glad, the kids are okay!
Green7 October 28, 2012 at 03:29 AM
not the first time, at least one other incident prior to this one (but this time it got media attention) and with different teachers, I am sure there were more times as the management is spotty and they have high turnover and obviously poor orientation/training... MCCA is not a very organized organization and have been working on improving themselves but I don't think they have good working environment for staff and such they have high turnover and therefore inexperience, etc I would assume most centers would want to hide an embarrassment as this org. did in the past, so I am sure we don't hear about most incidents... but I remember saying to a friend a few years back when I was familiar with MCCA and I said that I would never leave my kids at their 2 year old classroom because I feel they are not supervised well, staff cluster too much, etc and I was right, more than once! come on! they are tiny 2year olds! but hey if you have inexperienced and/or incompetent staff and disorganized management, how do you move forward? hire another clueless "body" and not train them properly and let them off with the kids? btw they don't do background checks prior to hiring new staff, they start the paper work and meanwhile your kids could be under care of who knows who... this reminds me of McDs and Apple stores where employees come and go and there's always some level of chaos...
Green7 October 28, 2012 at 03:36 AM
It looks like it was a teacher and one aide, but maybe aide was not just left out of the conversations? the ratio is more critical the younger the kids are... this center spreads into the neighborhood in a way and at some point the daycare kids and the neighbors just blend... I remember seeing about 35, 7-9 year olds running about, and maybe one or two teachers outside with them, but gosh that is tough on teachers, especially when neighborhood is not divided off and strangers just walk by and mix in with the kids... though in this case they went to the little playground which is surrounded by fence and only 8 kids, half went missing, really?! how can yo not notice? unless well incompetence or just oblivious?
Green7 October 28, 2012 at 03:37 AM
who is the director? has she commented? has the higher up management communicated directly with the parents? I would not trust my kids with MCCA


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