Broward County

Mom to File Lawsuit After Finding Child Locked in Plantation Daycare

Stephanie Martinez found her 2-year-old alone inside KinderCare Child Care Center

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A mother who found her 2-year-old daughter alone and locked inside her Plantation daycare is planning to sue the owner of the facility, her attorney said Friday.

Stephanie Martinez found the KinderCare Child Care Center locked up with the lights off when she arrived Wednesday evening to pick up her daughter.

Martinez called 911 as she saw her child through the front door window in a pitch-black room and filmed the toddler with her cellphone from the outside of the building.

"This poor kid," Martinez is heard saying in the video while sobbing. "I'm coming, OK?"

The Plantation Fire Department was able to pry the building's doors open to let the child out, according to an incident report. The girl was checked out by paramedics and did not need any medical treatment, but Martinez said she was "super traumatized."

In a statement Friday, Martinez's attorney, Mark DiCowden, said she's planning on filing a lawsuit.

"This entire event could’ve been avoided if Kindercare did not abandon their responsibilities and the toddler," DiCowden said. "What adds insult to injury is that nobody at Kindercare bothered to answer the phone in this emergency situation, they fail to apologize for their bad behavior and they fail to provide anything but a bad excuse for what happened."

The assistant director of the daycare came to the location after the incident and told police she and another teacher were the last two employees on the premises. Both left at around 6:20 p.m. and the mother arrived around eight minutes later to pick up her child, the incident report said.

The mother told police she did not receive a call from the daycare to pick up her kid.

It's still unclear what exactly led up to the incident. The employees told police they use a tablet to check out all of the children.

KinderCare issued a statement saying while they were thankful the child was quickly found, the incident should have never happened.

"We take all concerns about children’s safety seriously and follow a specific protocol anytime an issue is raised. Part of that protocol includes notifying our agency partners, like state licensing and Child Protective Services, as we did in this case," the statement read in part. "We also placed the staff members involved on administrative leave while we, and our agency partners, look into the concern further."

The Broward Sheriff's Office Child Protection Services and Plantation Police are investigating the incident.

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