ETSU Child Study Center taken off probation

Nathan Baker • Nov 28, 2013 at 4:31 PM

The director of the East Tennessee State University Child Study Center said newly implemented procedures have eliminated the lapses in supervision that brought a 60-day probation for the preschool child care provider.

Beverly Wiginton, director of the center, said staff have been extensively trained to assure no more children will be left without supervision at the facility.

“We submitted a plan of action to (the Tennessee Department of Human Services) and we’ve put all of those practices in place,” Wiginton said Wednesday. “It involves stricter procedures for children leaving and re-entering the building and written documentation for all students.”

DHS imposed the probation period on the study center on Sept. 10 after the program self-reported two incidents during the summer — on June 24 and Aug. 29 — when two children under staff supervision were left unsupervised for about a minute.

Both children were found unharmed shortly after they were noticed missing, but the repeated lapses in supervision triggered the 60-day probation, which ended Nov. 9.

Wiginton said the staff member responsible for the first incident was a university student, who has since left her position the child care facility.

The other teacher continues to work for the study center.

“The entire staff has worked really hard to get through this,” Wiginton said. “Our goal is to keep children safe, so when something like this happens, it pretty much rattles all of us to the bone.”

During the probationary period, DHS evaluators made frequent visits to the center to ensure the proposed supervision plans were being followed, Wiginton said.

Now that the probation has been lifted, and the center has received re-accreditation from the National Education for the Education of Young Children, the staff can begin working to once again build the trust of the families the center serves, the director said.

As a result of the two-month probation, the Child Study Center is still fully licensed, but lost its rating in the Star Quality Child Care Program.

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