published Sunday, September 18th, 2011

Georgia day care workers left children in vans 57 times over last five years

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ATLANTA—Georgia day care workers left children in vehicles 57 times over the last five years, an analysis of state records found.

Citing records obtained from the state Department of Early Care and Learning, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WSB-TV also report that child care advocates are alarmed at the situation. Some also question whether enough is being done to keep children safe.

Jazmin Green, 2, died June 20 after being left in a van outside a day care center in Jonesboro, authorities said. The state this summer also investigated a day care center in Warner Robins, where a 3-year-old boy died after being left in a parked car July 31.

“From my perspective, one instance is too many,” said Department of Early Care and Learning Commissioner Bobby Cagle. “What that says to me is that there’s too many of them, first and foremost.”

But, Cagle added, the 57 violations represent only a fraction of the 6,686 child care providers throughout Georgia.

“I think it’s a pretty clear indicator that we need stronger and more effective systems for child care centers in checking kids into transportation and out of transportation,” said Pat Willis, executive director of the advocacy group Voices for Georgia’s Children.

Leaving a child in a vehicle on a warm day can quickly turn deadly, particularly in Southern states which have far more deaths than any other part of the nation, authorities said.

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