After-School Program Releases Statement After Child Was Left in Van

WICHITA FALLS - Officials at the Southside Youth Senter are apologizing after a child was left in a van at their afterschool program.

A Wichita Falls mother said her son was left in a van at the center last Thursday. The mom said according to the sign in sheet, her son was signed in at 4 pm that day and she arrived to pick him up around 5, meaning he was left asleep in the van for an hour.

In a statement, the executive director called the incident unacceptable and apologized for the "anxiety, frustration and  inconvenience  it caused the family.

Read the full statement below: 

“First and foremost, on behalf of the Southside Youth Senter and the Board of Directors, I would like to personally apologize to Mrs. Alana McDaniel and her Family. I assumed the Executive Director position approximately three weeks ago and began the process of improving upon the vast organizational improvements that had been accomplished. However, last week, a staff member left one of our children unattended and asleep on the van transport during the After-School program. This is obviously unacceptable. Words cannot express how truly sorry I and the Southside Youth Senter organization are for the anxiety, frustration and inconvenience that we caused the McDaniel Family. This is especially saddening because Southside Youth Senter was founded on the promise of providing a safe, supervised setting where youth and children can develop character and social skills in an educational yet fun environment. We know we failed to deliver on this promise last week.

This failure has cost us a great Family and a great child who was a precious member of our youth center. Our hopes and prayers go out to the McDaniel Family for their future well-being and happiness. We are committed to the youth and children in our programs and the Parents who entrust their safety and well-being to our care. We are taking immediate corrective steps to regain confidence in our organization and have begun putting a comprehensive plan in place to provide written procedural guidance along with staff training.

I accept full responsibility for the mistake and I assure you, we are taking the necessary steps to prevent it and any other safety and accountability incidents from happening in the future.

Van Transport - Loading/Unloading
When children are transported during the Afterschool program and/or Summer Program, attending staff and van drivers are required to provide visual confirmation of all children prior to transport and unloading. Drivers and staff are also required to inspect the interior and exterior of all vehicles upon return to SYS. Signs have been placed on the vehicle’s interior which state “Children of Board” when the van is in use and flipped to “Unoccupied” after the van has been inspected following the unloading of children.

Supervision Policy
Children will be supervised at all times with appropriate child/staff ratios. Group staff members will regularly ensure accountability of youth/children (name to face on a scheduled basis, at every transition, and whenever leaving one area and arriving at another), going indoors or outdoors, to confirm the safe whereabouts of every child at all times. Additionally, they will be able to state how many children are in their care at all times.

SYS staff will participate in mandatory in-house procedural training, transportation safety and online childcare courses. These trainings will not only improve the operations of SYS, but will also enhance the job competencies of my staff.

These are just a few of the immediate corrective steps taken to ensure the safety and accountability of our children. We are confident, as a result of these actions and other planned initiatives, that Southside Youth Senter will emerge as a more reliable and even more responsive youth program than ever before. Again, we at the Southside Youth Senter sincerely apologize to the McDaniel Family and our entire Southside Youth Senter Family (Parents/Children).”

God Bless.

Edwin Holland
Executive Director
Southside Youth Senter
Voice: 940-767-8674
Fax: 940-767-7073

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