Wandering child scare prompts day care improvement

A wandering 2-year-old child found on Roop Street last week has prompted the construction of a new fence at Puff N' Stuff day care center.

Owner Donna Price said a short chain-link fence is being replaced by a six-foot wood fence with a latch that's more difficult for children to reach.

"It was an unfortunate situation that developed in seconds," she said. "Now that the fencing is up, hopefully there will never be another child that can reach that latch."

Price said in the 16 years that she has operated the center, which tends to about 45 children, she has always had a fear that a child would get into the street.

Carson resident Sherry Morgan convinced her daughter to pull the boy, Jacob Martin, out of the center after she heard what happened.

"He was in the middle of the street for several minutes," she said. "Then we had a meeting with them and I wasn't real pleased with the answers."

Morgan informed the Carson City Health and Sheriff's departments who investigated and made recommendations for improvements.

Health specialist Dustin Boothe, who regulates the 31 day care centers in Carson City, said the operators took it upon themselves to make the change.

"The fence was up a few days after the (May 15) incident," he said. "There isn't a specific fence size requirement, but there is a requirement to have a fence."

Price said Martin got out when several children were playing outside and one of the two workers went in to tend to an accident. During the confusion, three or four of the children unhooked the gate and went outside. When the workers noticed, they wrangled the children, but didn't see that Martin had walked around the corner.

Martin was brought back to the center when a passer-by stopped to retrieve him.

Because of fire codes that require easy escape for the children, locks are not allowed on gates or doors.

Boothe said in general, Carson City facilities are fairly responsible in following health department regulations. The minimum standard for child supervision is one caretaker for every six children, or two for every 20 children.

Boothe said he would like to see rules that increase the numbers of caretakers.


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