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Little Bucs program set to reopen Monday

Rex Barber • Mar 9, 2012 at 10:53 PM

East Tennessee State University’s child care center for students with children will reopen two weeks after voluntarily suspending its license due to reports of lack of supervision of children.

Beverly Wiginton, director of the Child Studies Center and Little Bucs programs at ETSU, said Little Bucs’ program evaluator from the Department of Human Services met her at the Little Bucs facility Friday and officially lifted the suspension. The facility will reopen Monday.

ETSU suspended its own license Feb. 28 after self-reporting several instances of lack of supervision, which can occur when a caregiver becomes out of reach of a child or leaves the presence of a child.

This past week, Wiginton and other university officials met with DHS representatives and provided a plan of corrected action regarding the lapses of supervision.

“There were several pieces of the plan of corrected action. Most of them dealt with changes in the operating hours, as well as some staffing changes, whether it was rearranging full-time staff schedules or the addition of three temporary employees, so we could have full-time staff in the classrooms at all times when children are present.”

After the end of the semester May 4, Wiginton said she would analyze Little Bucs’ needs to determine any changes that need to occur in order to maintain a quality learning environment.

Little Bucs is only open during the summer months for a school-age summer camp.

There were six lapses of supervision at Little Bucs since 2008. One occurred Jan. 24, which prompted DHS to put Little Bucs on a probationary license for 60 days. A lapse of supervision on Feb. 28 resulted in the voluntary action by ETSU. No child was hurt during any of the lapses of supervision.

About 75 children of ETSU students are cared for at Little Bucs.

“It’s been really a challenge for all of us but they have risen to the occasion, every single department on this campus has done anything that has been asked of them. And there has been a tremendous amount of support to get us through this tough time.”

Besides changing staffing hours, there are some new policies and procedures to make sure everyone understands how to do things. There are also signs in the alleyway between the Little Bucs entrance and the tennis courts warning drivers that children may be present. Two sections of fencing have been added, as well as childproof latches on all outside gates.

Little Bucs will return to the 60-day probationary status it was under following the Jan. 24 incident.

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