Tulsa Church Closes Daycare At DHS Request

Thursday, April 30th 2009, 5:24 pm
By: News On 6

By Tara Vreeland, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- A busy Tulsa daycare shuts down without notice.  Now parents are left scrambling, trying to find new child care providers and they want to know why the facility closed.

The Department of Human Services was called in to investigate two cases of toddlers left unattended at the Christ United Methodist Church Day Care.  It appears those two incidents ultimately caused the church to voluntarily cease care.

"Everybody's scrambling. 150 some kids trying to find a place to go all at once?" said Mike Brinkley.

Mike Brinkley's children have been coming to the Christ United Methodist Church's Kid Connection for four years. Now, he has to find new child care.

"Some of the teachers were hugging my kids with tears in their eyes yesterday as we were leaving I mean it was sad," said Mike Brinkley.  "I picked up my kids at 5 yesterday and immediately went to two daycares and they were all booked."

Finding a new day care is only half of his concern. The other is the reason why his children's day care closed.

DHS is reporting that on Wednesday, two toddlers, both a year old, left the facility unattended.

The church's senior pastor, Bob Feist, was unable to speak on camera. He says the kids were in the gym. As the teachers were cleaning up toys, the two children pushed open the door and walked onto the sidewalk. Other parents walking into the building saw them and brought them back in.

Pastor Feist says they were unattended for no more than 15 seconds. But, DHS says that doesn't matter. 

The church complied with a DHS request to shutdown and sent letters home with parents saying they were no longer offering day care.

As for Brinkley and other parents, they are still left without a place to take their children.

"I am upset about both of it. That the kids got out and that I have to find a different facility because there is not any.  There's not any," said Mike Brinkley.

This isn't the first time a child has been left attended.   On April 9th, a three-year-old left the facility unattended.  A bystander found the child and returned the toddler to the center. The staff self-reported the incident and worked with DHS and hired additional staff.

The latest case has now been transferred to the Oklahoma Child Care Licensing Coordinator's Office.  They will review the case and determine how to proceed.