WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) - The gym from which a 14-month-old boy wandered away issued a statement saying it will review its on-site child care facility policies to prevent a similar incident from happening in the future, though it did not provide any specific examples.
Toddler Brekken Brunette was allowed to walk out a back door from the Kid's Stuff child care center at the MVP Sports Club in Rockford into a back parking lot. His mom, Tara Morgan, said no one realized he was gone for about half an hour.
24 Hour News 8 contacted MVP Monday night and went back to the site Tuesday, but no one in Rockford would comment.
A representative from MVP's corporate office in Florida emailed a statement to 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday evening, saying it would review staff training and program structure to "ensure the upmost of security and quality of care at all times."
No specifics were given as to what policies would be, or have been, reviewed or changed.
The Spartan Stores YMCA in Wyoming offers a service similar to Kid's Stuff, watching children for an hour or so at a time while parents work out on site at the facility.
Officials there are several security precautions in place to make sure kids at their facility stay safe at all times. When a child is dropped off, a parent's photo ID is checked in and the parent is given a number to clip on his or her clothing. Children then get a matching number, so it is easy to match up the two if there is a problem. Parents need to turn in the matching number when they come to pick up children, and staff also matches the picture of the parent to the photo on the ID card left at the child care center.
And the YMCA facility has doors that lock automatically and are equipped with alarms.
Bev Thiel, the director for the Spartan Stores YMCA in Wyoming, said there is virtually no way a kid could escape the way Brekken did at the Rockford facility. But she went on to say she understands parental fears when a story like Brekken's makes the news.
"As a parent, when anything happens to your child, the first thing you want to do is act out. We try to take into account everything that can happen, and we always are re-modifying and upgrading our changes," Thiel said.
The YMCA also says it will turn kids away if the facility is too full.
"It's just understanding that kids will be kids, and they want to get around, and it's just paying attention to the kids while they're in your care," Thiel said. "We realize how important child safety is. We want to make sure that they're safe."
But even though Thiel said the YMCA isn't concerned about its facility, they don't take this situation lightly, and are using it as a learning opportunity.
"This will affect all of us that have this type of care," said Thiel. "And so we'll all be taking a look at our practices, but knowing that we're doing everything we can and really try to build the relationship with the parents."
The State does not regulate child care centers at places like gyms and churches because it's assumed that parents remain on site.
The YMCA in Wyoming does offer a separate full service Child Development Center that is regulated by the State. Kids Zone is a separate service offered to members that doesn't require the same structure.
Complete statement from MVP:
"All of us at MVP were and continued to be distressed that this incident happened at our Rockford location a few weeks ago. We are grateful the situation was quickly resolved without harm and we thank the family for their support in this effort.
"The safety and well being of the children and all our members and guests is our first priority. We have taken numerous steps in addition to what we have always done to prevent anything like this incident from occurring. We will continue to review every aspect of our staff training and the structure within our kids’ areas to ensure the upmost of security and quality of care at all times."
A former teacher accused of having inappropriate contact with a student entered a plea Monday.
The Grand Rapids Public Schools Board of Education discussed Phase 2 of the district's Transformation Plan at a special meeting Monday afternoon.
Is your child safe when riding in the car? Results from a new study show that fewer Michigan drivers are buckling their kids up safely in car seats or booster seats.