Thursday, September 6, 2012

Another Unprepared Daycare in Crisis Slinks Into the Sunset

From time to time in these posts, I highlight a story about some childcare center run amok. For every one I feature, there are probably 20 in the news across the country that I don't follow up on for fear of redundancy.

I always end up writing that daycare centers could easily band together and split the cost of having a crisis communications plan prepared by experts. I have yet to hear of any of them taking this advice to heart. Instead, almost every time, a day care center in crisis closes permanently the very next day. It doesn't have to be like this.

One of the most atrocious crises I've seen involving a daycare happened at Cornerstone Childcare in Nampa, Idaho. "(Joshua) Ritchie (age 23), who was arrested Aug. 21, has admitted to sexually abusing 23 children — 10 more than was originally reported. The original investigation began after a 5-year-old boy told his parents that Ritchie had sexually abused him....

"Alleged victims are between the ages of 5 and 12. They include children at Cornerstone Childcare in Nampa, where Ritchie worked. He also is accused of abusing members of his family. Ritchie also worked as a kitchen staff substitute for the Nampa School District and at the Idaho Arts Charter School." (http://www.idahostatesman.com/2012/09/05/2259614/officials-say-nampa-daycare-worker.html)

A daycare prepared with a strategy to restore parents' confidence and to clean up its image in the community might be able to deal with a crisis, even as horrendous as this one. Instead, here's how Cornerstone handled it.

Try going to the website for information:

"Oops! This link appears to be broken." (http://www.cornerstonechildcarenampa.com/contact_us/Reg_Cont_Med_Forms.pdf)

That's the site for forms. Let's try Cornerstone's home page:

"Forbidden

You don't have permission to access / on this server." (http://www.cornerstonechildcarenampa.com/)

I don't know for sure, but I'll bet you a chocolate doughnut that the doors at Cornerstone are locked.

Daycare operators: It doesn't have to be like this. Pool your money with other centers and have a professional crisis communications plan prepared so that you will know how to respond when trouble arrives -- other than pulling your website, disconnecting the phone, and locking the doors. Why throw away your investment? Besides, parents are depending on you.

Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2012/09/05/2259614/officials-say-nampa-daycare-worker.html#storylink=cpy

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