A Montana mom was horrified when she arrived at her son's daycare and saw the door locked. Her 6-month-old baby was trapped inside the dark building alone because all the staff members had already left.
When both parents decide to work full-time, they look for a daycare where they can leave their little ones for the entire day without worrying about anything. Since parents want their children to feel safe in their absence, they look for the best daycare facility where the employees can provide their kids with everything they need.
Sometimes, things go wrong despite parents choosing the best daycare center for their children. A mother experienced something similar while picking up her 6-month-old son after work.
Baby Avery. | Source: youtube.com/KULR-8 News
THE EARLY WEEKEND
On a Friday evening in November 2018, Tanaya Merchen went to pick up her 6-month-old baby, Avery, from the daycare. She made her way through the traffic on the roads of Billings, Montana while people headed home to enjoy the early weekend with their loved ones.
When Merchen arrived at the Kids R US daycare, she felt something was not right because the building's lights were off. After walking closer to the main entrance, she noticed the doors were locked. She went weak in the knees thinking about her son. Merchen recalled:
"At that point, I really didn't know where my son was."
The daycare center. | Source: youtube.com/KULR-8 News
Merchen tried opening the door, but it didn't help. Then, she immediately pulled her phone out of her handbag and called the daycare director, Evi Pickering, who was shocked to learn what had happened. She told Merchen to stay there and showed up with the keys a few minutes later.
Pickering quickly unlocked the main gate and rushed inside, while Merchen followed her, unaware where the baby was until they reached the baby nap room. Merchen said:
"My son was laying awake in one of the playpacks."
Baby Avery. | Source: youtube.com/KULR-8 News
Merchen quickly grabbed her child and calmed him down while feeling relieved that he hadn't been hurt. Meanwhile, Pickering said she was angry at the employee who left early because she got sick.
The director also told Merchen that they had hired new employees who weren't familiar with the baby room. Merchen was shocked by Pickering's response and immediately left the daycare center with her son.
Later, the director messaged Merchen telling her that the employees responsible for leaving Avery alone were now on two-month probation. Little did she know that Merchen had already decided never to revisit the daycare, and the world would soon know what had happened.
Tanaya Merchen. | Source: youtube.com/KULR-8 News
THE FURIOUS MOTHER
The next day, Merchen dropped Avery at a friend's place who agreed to look after him. She filed a police complaint, which made Child Protective Services look into the matter.
Merchen also informed her manager that she needed to find a safe daycare for her son before returning to work on Monday. Over there, her coworker said his wife could look after Avery until Merchen found a suitable daycare. The devastated single mother shared her feelings:
"I feel traumatized for my son and have little to no trust in anyone."
Avery pictured in his car seat. | Source: youtube.com/KULR-8 News
THE VIRAL POST
After Merchen's boss discovered what had happened, he wrote a Facebook post naming the daycare and revealing what had happened. In no time, the post went viral, and people flooded the comments section with similar experiences with the same daycare center.
The daycare owner, Kim Redding, said the incident happened because of a miscommunication, contradicting what the director told Merchen earlier. Redding said:
"It was a horrible mistake and we’re sorry."
Kim Redding and KULR-8 News Reporter. | Source: youtube.com/KULR-8 News
Redding explained that the daycare now had a "damage-control method" through which employees signed a sheet before leaving, ensuring no child was left in the daycare alone.
Further investigation by the state revealed that the student-to-staff ratio at the daycare was not abiding by the laws. According to the documents, one caregiver was looking after 18 children when the law said there should be two caregivers for more than six children. Meanwhile, Redding told KULR-8 News:
"We can't change that mistake. The only thing we can do is put in forward more extra caution."
Merchen had decided to boycott the daycare center after the employees left for the weekend, locking her baby inside. She had no idea that other parents also had similar experiences with the daycare.
What would you do if you were in Merchan's shoes? How would you deal with the daycare owner and manager presenting excuses for locking Avery in the dark building?
Here's another true story about a daycare where the employees locked a 1-year-old girl in the dark. Her father came to pick her up and heard her crying inside the building.