State moves to revoke license of daycare where child died in van

By Laura Geller - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Parents are reacting to news that the Yellow Brick Road Daycare could be shut down. The state made that announcement Wednesday after a little boy died in their care earlier this summer.

The explanation of the violations investigators found while looking into the day a 13-month-old child was killed would scare many parents. The state says the laundry list of complaints found after investigating the center's daily operations is too long to allow it to stay in business.

Some parents we stopped on the way into the Yellow Brick Road Daycare talk about second chances.

"My heart goes out to his family but anybody that knows this daycare knows that they didn't do that intentionally," said one mother with three kids at the center.

Early in July, Andrew Johnson was picked up from his home but never made it inside the daycare facility. The state now says on that tragic day, Yellow Brick Road failed to meet state standards.

One example cited is that Johnson's belongings were brought inside but he was left in the van in the hot sun for seven hours. The staff concluded the boy had simply left his stuff there, but never confirmed that with parents or checked the van.

The medical examiner says the baby died from heat exposure.

"It's the department's belief that the child died because those policies and procedures were not being followed correctly," said Department of Social Services licensing administrator Jeffrey Williams.

Owner Valerot Whitlow has continually defended her daycare. The center still supervises about thirty kids. Wednesday, while Whitlow walked outside several times, she continually said she had "no comment" and would not respond to questions. When asked if she would appeal, Whitlow simply shrugged her shoulders.

Those who are talking say the state's action is unjustified.

"Accidents happen. So, if a parent does it to their child, you take all their children?!" said one parent.

Whitlow has 15 days to notify the state if she is going to appeal and can stay open during that process. If she decides not to go forward with the proceedings, she has 30 days to close the daycare. At the same time she and her son who drove the van that day, are facing felony charges.

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