Fox Files: Payments Frozen For Daycare Who Left Kid In The Cold

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

O'FALLON, MO (KTVI) -   The State of Missouri has frozen subsidy payments to a daycare that left a child in the cold on Christmas Eve.  

State regulators say the O'Fallon, Missouri daycare forgot a toddler outside for more than four hours.

We continue hearing from people struggling with the image of a two-year-old girl, forgotten outside on a playground December 24th.  The little girl spent hours in wind chill temps as low as 17.5 degrees, until her dad arrived at Bright Start Academy to pick her up.  He found her burrowed in the mulch.

Bright Start Academy in O'Fallon, MO is suspended because of it.

Dawn Winkler caught our report friday night.  She's the Executive Director of United 4 Children, a group that helps parents find good daycare.  She said, "It actually kind of made me sick to my stomach because I can't imagine leaving a two-year-old outside.  I see no reasons.  I can't figure out why you could miscount."

Winkler said she was happy to see quick action from regulators who inspected Bright Start the day after Christmas and suspended it the day after that.  She said, "I think (quick action) should be expected.  I think we should, if a parent calls and has a valid concern that their child is not a safe environment, we should immediately say stop."

It's closed until further notice.  No one from the center is commenting, but the center can appeal.

We exposed another Bright Start Academy in Overland, MO - in a Fox Files investigation May 2012.

2011 inspection reports noted a teacher 'hitting' and a 'shaking' incident so frightening another caregiver described a child 'screaming for her life.'  Inspectors also noted teachers calling kids 'retards' and 'drug babies.  Plus inspectors documented a teacher punishing kids for biting - putting 'hot sauce' in their mouths.

Though it's a different Bright Start location -- O'Fallon, MO -- where teachers forgot about a toddler in the cold, Secretary of State records show it's the same corporation president, Diane Saettele.  She lives in this upscale St. Charles home. We stopped by Tuesday.  No one answered the door.  

The State inspection report notes that Bright Start teachers were not following a policy of using written attendance sheets because it was Christmas Eve.

You can get help finding child care through the organizations:

Join Chris on Twitter