MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Seven-month-old William Durden, Jr. is finally on the road to recovery, but his parents still have lots of questions and concerns about how he suffered chemical burns at his day care.
Police and state regulators are still investigating the incident, so they won’t say much.
However, WREG has learned the day care was nearly shut down last year.
The News Channel 3 Investigators uncovered documents showing it was all due to a pattern of serious problems William’s parents say they didn’t even know about.
William Durden, Jr. has come a long way in two weeks.
“He’s doing good, he’s doing fine. A lot better, his face is healing good,” said the baby’s father William, Sr.
Durden says little William now goes to a new day care.
“You can tell he’s taken to it pretty good.”
Durden says it’s a much different atmosphere from what he saw on surveillance video earlier this month.
It’s how Durden says he and his wife also learned their son sat for hours with chemical burns on his face.
Likely the result of being splashed with a cleaning product, that hadn’t been diluted his father says.
“Hurt by the people that you’re entrusting with your children,” Durden added.
Nurturing Young Minds Director Stephanie Howard apologized for the incident when speaking to WREG two weeks ago.
“We have released the teachers that were here that was involved in that incident ”
Howard told WREG on March 9th, “We are a three star center, we never had anything of this nature to happen before.”
WREG asked, “But you all have had some violations before?”
Howard replied, “Yes, I wasn’t here at the time when those violations occurred.”
Those violations Howard referred to are quite serious, and because of that, the three star rating Howard talked about was just restored to the center early last month.
WREG learned Nurturing Young Minds lost its three stars, and was busted down to zero stars for six months last year.
Records show it could have been worse.
The ratings change and other discipline was actually the result of a deal the day care struck with state regulators to keep the doors open.
Two parent complaints in late 2015 sent a program evaluator to Nurturing Young Minds.
That’s where she found unapproved drivers taking kids to school in personal cars.
Documents show the evaluator literally had to stop a worker who was about to drive off with too many children in the back seat, none of whom were wearing seat belts.
She also found the director took children to the library without their parents’ consent.
The evaluator also observed multiple supervision violations, such as a toddler room with 20 children and one teacher.
The same worker went back two months later, and found similar problems.
DHS revoked the day care’s license last February.
The day care reached a settlement agreement instead and paid $1,000 fine last summer.
WREG asked Durden, “Did you have any idea?”
He said, “Not a single idea.”
While violations are listed on the state’s website, details about serious penalties are not.
DHS confirmed Nurturing Young Minds got its three stars back on February 1, 2017.
The Durdens enrolled William just a few weeks later relying on that rating, not knowing it was brand new.
He said, “If the state is responsible for rating these day cares, then the state should take a much stronger approach in making sure the information that the people or the consumer is getting is accurate.”
Durden says he’s not sure what else might happen with Nurturing Young Minds, but he had some advice for parents with children still attending, “Look at the tape.”
Durden added, “My child was the only one that resulted in injury and it bothers you to your soul to think that if he hadn’t received those injuries to his face, all of the events that we watched him go through on this video, we never would have known about.”
WREG asked DHS officials how parents attending the center at the time were made aware of the ratings change.
A spokesperson replied, “Parents are informed of an agency’s rating through the report card. All child care agencies are issued a report card with star rating and compliance history that is posted at the entrance of the agency.”
Of course, that wouldn’t have helped the Durdens.
Tips for parents in search of child care:
- Visit prospective locations
- Get references from parents
- Search violation history online
- Contact Program Evaluator to get additional details
DHS wouldn’t comment further about the latest allegations. The spokesperson said the Department of Children’s Services is investigating.
WREG spoke by phone with Nurturing Young Mind’s owner Senese Duhart. She said they’ve handled the latest incident, and made lots of changes since last year’s violations.
Duhart said “I’ve learned a great deal….my heart is really into this.”
WREG has spent the past several years investigating problem day cares in Memphis/Shelby County