CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - A daycare worker was fired after a toddler was found locked outside behind a local Charlotte daycare Wednesday evening.
A Good Samaritan spotted the little boy behind the daycare around 5:40 p.m. as it was shutting down for the day, and notified those inside. The entire ordeal was captured on camera.
The Good Samaritan told FOX 46 Charlotte she spotted the toddler crying and knocking on one of the back doors behind Sunshine Kids Learning Academy located at 532 Ingle Street in west Charlotte.
"Your mind races everywhere because the sign says they close at 5:30," said witness Tina Quizon. "This was clearly 5:40-- and I thought, 'my goodness, has this child been left behind? Is it going to get cold tonight?'"
Cell phone video shows the woman notifying daycare employees, who were apparently unaware, that the child had been left outside. According to the woman, daycare workers made several conflicting comments, even stating they thought the toddler had already gone home.
It's unclear how long the little boy was left outside before being discovered.
FOX 46 went by Sunshine Kids Learning Academy to get to the bottom of it. Workers there say it closes around 5:30 each day and kids are brought back inside the building to prepare for pickup around 5:15 p.m.
"The child was with the teacher and as they came into the building, he apparently went back out right by the door they were going into the building into," said Sunshine Kids Learning Academy Administrator Catherine Harrington.
"So he could've been out there like, 20 minutes?" FOX 46 asked.
"Could've been-- it's a possibility. Yes ma'am," Harrington replied. That's when we asked about the protocols in place.
"This is never okay," said Harrington. "Never okay. We always have the staff in place to accommodate with the children in our care-- it's never okay. All teachers need to always know how many children are present in their space at any given time. We constantly do head counts."
But the daycare worker in charge of this child seemed to have no idea he was missing from the group.
"The teacher is no longer employed here as of yesterday," said Harrington. "They had to be let go because this is something-- this was serious enough to know that you just have to account for every child-- that's our job."
State investigators say they are aware of an allegation and are considering next steps. By law, though, the Department of Health and Human Services cannot comment on any possible investigations.
"It was very concerning," said Quizon. "They didn't seem to know where this child was."
Records show the daycare passed prior inspections-- including one as recently as July. But it has received violations for a few things in the past-- including not keeping adequate attendance records-- and for gates not properly latching in an outdoor play area.
FOX 46 asked the daycare if this has happened there before.
"No ma'am," said Harrington. "It has not. This is something unfortunate-- but I'm glad we were able to catch it right away."
Thankfully, in this situation, the most important thing is that the young boy was found early and is safe tonight.
"I'm just so glad that this had a happy ending," Quizon said.
"Safety is our number one priority here at Sunshine," said Harrington. "And I make sure I account for every child every day."
The daycare says it has addressed the situation with the child's parents and they are continuing their enrollment with the daycare.