Seminole, Florida - A Bay area mother says she isn't alone in her disbelief over the treatment of children at a drop-off day care inside the LA Fitness Seminole gym.
It's near the corner of Seminole Boulevard and Park Boulevard North in Seminole. Last week, Melissa Simoneau Van Hoven tried to pick up her 16 month old son Noah only to be asked if he'd already been picked up. After a frantic search she found Noah, herself, in the children's bathroom at the gym.
"I open the bathroom door to find my son on the floor in the pitch black crying, covered in toilet water -- the toilet had pee in it," Van Hoven says.
She says she's also concerned that day care workers are distracted when talking calls on their cell phones or visiting with friends who stop by when they should be watching children. Van Hoven says she doesn't think the workers should be allowed to call gym customers with overdue accounts while also supervising children.
She says she's found a small object in Noah's mouth on once occasion when she went to pick him up and another time noticed him standing on furniture while a worker was on the computer and talking on the phone.
Lexi Sanchez says her son and daughter were in the day care when Noah went missing. She says she can't believe the daycare doesn't have a procedure for checking kids in and out. She says she was appalled by how lax security was and how the young day care workers didn't seem to care.
"She didn't know her name. She didn't know my name. She didn't know I was her mom, so another person could have walked in there and said, 'Yes, that's my daughter,' and taken her and she would have no idea," Sanchez says.
Tane Rickey has five kids and says she left the gym after discovering her young daughter, face down on the floor screaming in the day care while a daycare worker didn't seem to notice, "The worker was sitting at the computer desk working on the computer."
Rickey and the other mothers say they've shared their concerns with management but it hasn't helped.
"I will not leave my children there ever again," Rickey says. She adds that she used to be able to walk to LA Fitness Seminole to work out but now drives 15 to 20 minutes away to work out at a different LA Fitness in St. Petersburg instead.
10 News went to LA Fitness Seminole to speak with a manager named Cole who the mothers say they've complained to repeatedly. He said no comment and asked us to contact their corporate office. We called their corporate office and emailed the office several times Tuesday with no response.
Meanwhile Van Hoven has also emailed the corporate office but hasn't received a response either. She says she did receive a call from a district manager for the company who said, "Accidents happen." Van Hoven has contacted a Child Protection Investigator with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. 10 News will follow up to find out the results of the department's investigation.
The Department of Children and Families currently regulates licensed child care facilities, licensed family day care homes, licensed large family child care homes, and licensed mildly ill facilities in 62 of the 67 counties in Florida. In addition, the Office of Child Care Regulation and Background Screening administer the registration of family day care homes not required to be licensed.
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