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Improperly Transported 3-Year-Old Run Over By Child Care Director

Following an incident where a 3-year-old child, Emma Moore, was hit by a truck after an employee at Omega Daycare drove her and another child to a restaurant, the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) has issued an order for intended emergency closure of the center.

Reg Griffin, chief communications officer for DECAL, said in a statement, “Our investigation has shown that this center was responsible for improperly transporting two children to a restaurant without their parents’ permission. The director of the center later hit one of the children with her truck and then drove over the child. The child was treated at a local hospital and later airlifted to a hospital in Macon. Our thoughts are with the child and her family.”

Griffin went on to say the center reported the incident the day after it occurred and that the provider was appealing the order of emergency closure. However, later in the day, Griffin sent an e-mail statting that the owner withdrew the appeal, He was unsure why.

Griffin said the center will remain closed for 21 days while they determine what steps will be taken next. Those steps could include license revocation. He noted in cases of emergency closure, the owner has 48 business hours to appeal. The appeal must be heard by the Office of State Administrative Hearings within the next 48 business hours and then a decision must be given within another 48 business hours. Griffin said DECAL received the authority to do emergency closures from the Georgia legislature in July 2011.

He said the Office of State Administrative Hearings are conducted like court cases. The judge will either uphold the decision of the agency or will rule in favor of the provider.

“It’s an interesting process,” he said.

Omega Police Chief Eric Windmoller said in an email that he and officer John Tyson had a meeting with representatives from the Department of Family and Children Services. “We compared and shared information and witness statements and came to the conclusion that we would both be best served by bringing the case to the District Attorney’s office and let a grand jury hear all of the information,” he wrote in the email.

Windmoller said he was in the process of collecting all of the information from DFCS to present to the DA’s office.
Griffin said his office conducts unannounced inspections of Georgia's 6,000 child care centers twice each year. This is in addition to the 100 or so inspections done each month in response to calls from someone with concerns about a child care facility.

He said the 12 things looked into during an inspection are disciplining, diapering, hygiene, infant sleep safety, medication, physical plant, playground, staff/child ratios, supervision, field trips, swimming and transportation (which is a huge issue). He said his agency deals with a lot of cases of kids being left on school buses and vans.

Griffin said when investigating a chid care center, the outcome may include requiring the center to have technical assistance, a fine, give a provisional license or revoke their license, or as in the case of Omega Daycare, issue an order for intended emergency closure.

Just why this director took two kids to a restaurant without parental permission will no doubt be a part of the ongoing investigation, as will the details of how the child was run over. Hopefully, the baby girl will recover without any permanent harm, but as I write this her fate is uncertain.

A civil suits is inevitable and criminal charges are a distinct possibility. This needless, tragic incident will likely be the end of this child care business.

Spare a thought for little Emma; that irresponsibility, negligence and lack of common sense don't spell her end as well.

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