"Through the van’s side window, he could see injured children tossed about inside. Four larger children were piled onto a younger girl who was slipping in and out of consciousness. When he reached around them to pull them out, (James) Jaggers said he realized they were all buckled into the same seatbelt." (http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20120620/NEWS01/306200141?nclick_check=1&)
Heavenly Angels continued to transport children in vans despite its drivers being repeatedly cited for operating without a license, carrying too many children, and speeding
The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Human Services inspectors routinely found issues that needed fixed, according to several statements of deficiencies and plans of corrections from the cabinet.
- In July 2011, one location did not have required employee records on the premises.
- In February, a cabinet investigation showed that a parent who went to that same center with a complaint asked to speak to a person in charge, but employees said no supervisor was present. Regulations require day cares to have a designated person in charge.
- At another location, investigators found that a supervisor couldn’t provide proof that an employee had a tuberculosis test as required.
- The Hill Street day care’s license to transport students was suspended in August 2010 and was closed last spring, although that van was continued to be used. It's the one that crashed last week.
- Before the Hill Street location closed, it had no staff member trained in CPR in 2010, an issue that the staff reported had been corrected.
- Two vehicles used to transport children were not up-to-date on required inspections, and officials could not provide required daily inspections of lights, signals, mirrors, gauges, and wiper blades, which the staff reported corrected.
The business is gone. Leased space sits vacant. Parents have to scramble to make other arrangements. The cabinet is -- or should be -- under scrutiny for not protecting children. All because a smoldering crisis turned lethal and left helpless children with physical and emotional scars they will carry through life.
Lewars could have prevented all this if she had followed the law instead of taking shortcuts. The state could have prevented this by enforcing regulations. Parents could have prevented this if they had been more dubious of how Heavenly Angels was taking care of their babies and had spoken up.
That's the definition of smoldering crises. Someone knows something is wrong but doesn't take aggressive action to change it. Day cares are in an excellent position to develop crisis communications plans that can save their businesses if and when something goes seriously wrong. There's no reason why five or 10 or 20 day cares in the same area shouldn't band together and bring in experts to write a crisis communications plan that would apply to all of them. It would cost each very little.
That's a better solution than closing the doors when a crisis hits.