By: Leah Uko
OMAHA (KPTM) – Monica Maxson never liked the idea of having someone else take care of her kids, but last September she decided to face her fears.
"It was good for a while and then this happened," Maxson continued. "It makes me feel like I shouldn't have done it in the first place."
Maxson and her husband James' decision backfired on Tuesday when staff at Little Lambs Daycare & Preschool forgot their 4-year-old daughter Haylee was in the back seat on the center's van.
"My daughter could've been found dead in this van how cold it was that day," James said.
Maxson overslept the morning Haylee and their 7-year-old son were supposed to be picked up. Later around 8:30 a.m. a driver, a woman named "Cale", picked the kids up. She dropped every kid inside the van off at their schools and arrived at the center located at 4408 Capitol Avenue.
Administrative staff and Cale noticed around 2:30 p.m. that Haylee was inside the van. They changed her clothes and fed her lunch.
Around 5:30 p.m. the center's assistant director personally dropped Haylee off at home and told the Maxsons what happened.
James said Haylee was not her usual energetic self.
"She didn't say anything, she just stood there. And didn't bother to pull anything out of her backpack and go ‘look what I made today'."
Back in November 2010 Department of Health and Human Services investigated a complaint about a 2-year-old being left inside the center's van.
Tammy Corliss was a driver during this time.
"I feel guilty because I referred this family to the daycare because that's where my granddaughter went," Corliss continued. "Would I send my granddaughter back? Probably not."
It was later found that the former owner and president, Dan Godsey left the kid in the van.
"As a driver our responsibility is to make sure the van is clear. We're responsible for those kids. When they're in our vans we are responsible of their well being," Corliss said.
The center was put on probation from April 2011 to April 2012. Godsey transferred his license to his wife, Sheryl and was ordered not to be on the property.
"We did not intentionally do any of those things. They were accidents. We're humans," Sheryl said.
Some parents agreed.
"I still know it's a good daycare or whatnot. I'm not going to let one bad apple spoil one bunch for me right now," Gordon Scott. "I'm a person that has faith in people and so I'll give them a try and still come here."
James did note that Little Lambs is a good daycare.
"My daughter has improved a lot since she's been there and her speech—being around other kids doing all kinds of things," he said.
The driver and two others were fired.
"We're very sad to think that we did have some policies into effect and that they were not followed," Sheryl said.
The center pulled all the vans off the road.
"We're going to go to just driving our buses that have safety devices in them where a driver—once—they cannot leave the vehicle until they go to the back and push a button."
But no policy change can regain the Maxson's trust.
"This can't be forgiven. In our eyes there's nothing," James said. "They could give us God knows how much money or anything—it's still not going to make up for it. My daughter's well being is worth way more than anything in the world."
The couple is considering filing a lawsuit against the center.
The Omaha Police Department is investigating the former employees' actions.
DHHS officials recommend parents get to know their daycare center drivers and stay in contact with them. Parents can also view any daycare's public records at www.nebraska.gov.
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