The little one has been scared ever since she was locked in, revealed the mom. "She's super traumatized," Martinez said.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on February 25, 2022. It has since been updated
Parents who drop their kids off at daycare trust the facility to give their child an adequate amount of care and concern. So imagine the shock of one mom who turned up at her 2-year-old daughter's daycare to find it closed, as the staff had gone home and locked her precious child inside.
The Florida mother is now suing the company for their negligence.
Stephanie Martinez told Local10 that she arrived at Plantation KinderCare daycare center at night on February 22, 2022, and found her daughter, Anastasia Brathwaite, locked inside with the lights off. The employees had left for the day, Martinez said, and she had no way to get Anastasia out.
"I started knocking. I banged on every window. I couldn't see anything because everything was dark," Martinez recalled. "And finally, I heard her and she popped on the little window, on the little door, and I lost it."
According to Local 10, Stephanie Martinez is suing Plantation KinderCare in Plantation, Florida, claiming the company never called her to pick up her daughter as the staff left for the night. https://t.co/9R4kaC2nzl— IG: PlatinumVoicePR (@PLATINUMVOICEPR) February 23, 2022
The worried mom called 911 and in a short while, firefighters arrived and they were able to pry open the doors of the facility to free Anastasia. According to a report by the Plantation Police Department, two of Plantation KinderCare's employees left the daycare center at 6:20 p.m., about eight minutes before Martinez arrived.
As for the little one, she's been scared ever since she was locked in, revealed the mom. "She's super traumatized," Martinez told NBC Miami about the incident. "It's not fair."
Meanwhile, in a statement sent to PEOPLE, KinderCare Learning Companies, Inc., which operates dozens of facilities around the country out of its headquarters in Oregon, said it would retrain staff on proper supervision protocol in wake of the incident and are "thankful" Anastasia was found safe.
"At KinderCare, nothing is more important to us than the safety of the children in our care. While we're thankful the child was quickly found and was safe, this incident should not have happened," the company said.
Always hated that I’ve had to put my kids in daycare. I hope mom presses charges and wins a class action lawsuit against @KinderCare in Plantation, FL— ♡ (@tiffany_nic0le) February 19, 2022
"We take all concerns about children's safety seriously and follow a specific protocol anytime an issue is raised," they added, in part. "Part of that protocol includes notifying our agency partners, like state licensing and Child Protective Services, as we did in this case. We also placed the staff members involved on administrative leave while we, and our agency partners, look into the concern further."
Martinez's attorney, Mark DiCowden, said that he felt the statement from the company only offered a "bad excuse" in response to the incident.
"We are outraged that KinderCare endangered the life of a child by not observing any safety protocols that led to a two-year-old being abandoned and locked inside a darkened facility," DiCowden said in a statement given to the news station. "Making the whole situation worse was that Ms. Martinez was forced in horror to witness her child in peril and it was not until law enforcement and the fire department were called that the toddler was then extricated through extreme measures."
"The entire event could've been avoided if KinderCare did not abandon their responsibilities and the toddler. What adds insult to injury is that nobody at KinderCare bothered to answer the phone in this emergency situation, they failed to apologize for their bad behavior and they failed to provide anything but a bad excuse for what happened," he continued.
DiCowden then added that the main reason why he and Martinez are filing a lawsuit is to "ensure that nothing like this happens to another child."
Cover Image Source: YouTube | WPLG Local 10 (Mother arrives to Plantation daycare to find lights off, doors closed and 2-year-old crying inside)