Toddler wanders away from daycare



Posted on March 23, 2010 at 9:23 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 23 at 10:24 PM

A toddler wanders out of his daycare and along a busy road.  Back in April of last year, inspectors with the Department of Family and Protective Services noted a hole in the fence where the 18 - 24 month old children play.  Tutor Time tells us those repairs were made.  Still, the child who wandered away on Tuesday was 18 months old, meaning he slipped through the fence in that same designated play area.

Noah Torres has a smile that will win you over in a second.  His mom, Rebecca, was all smiles too, but hours earlier she'd been in tears.

"Words cannot describe what it feels like to get a phone call like that," she said.

The phone call came from Tutor Time daycare in Northwest Austin where Noah was enrolled.  Torres was told her son, while okay now,  had slipped through a fence unnoticed during recess.  Passersby were stopped at the traffic light at Parmer and Dallas when they noticed Noah walking along a drainage ditch.  The ditch is about 50 yards from the daycare center but only about ten feet from Parmer, a six lane highway with a speed limit of 60 miles an hour.

"You cannot help but go through the what ifs," said Torres, while holding back tears.  " I can't help but picture my baby on Parmer and that's going to haunt me for a long time and my husband as well." 

John Torres was wrought with emotion as well.  His day started when a drill bit when through his hand at work.  He was being treated at a hospital when the daycare gave him the news.

"I was getting my stitches in my hand and just that my boy was by the roadway at Parmer," he said, also holding back tears.  "It is a scary feeling, I just wanted to get out of the hospital and go hold him in my hands and my arms and be with him." 

Rebecca Torres is a third grade teacher and knows that accidents in any school setting can occur.

"Kids fall, kids break bones, but there is absolutely no excuse for an 18 month old baby or any other child to be out wandering the streets," she said.

Amy Hellebuyck, the Marketing Communications Manager for Learning Care Group, Inc. issued this statement on behalf of Tutor Time: "Each and every one of the children in our care is precious to us and as child advocates we take all issues regarding the level of care we provide very seriously.  I can assure you that we took appropriate measures with the staff members that were involved."

The Torres' say those appropriate measures were firing the two teachers responsible for Noah and eight other classmates.  Rebecca Torres says the director brought Noah back to class, then asked those teachers if they'd done their head count after recess.  We're told they said yes.