The death of a 3-year-old boy after an incident at an in-home daycare came less than six months after the home’s playground was deemed unsafe during an inspection, state records showed.
Ms. Janna’s Daycare in Alpharetta, which is licensed to provide care for up to six children, was ordered to close after the boy’s death, the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning said Thursday.
“Emergency closures are used by the agency when it is determined that there has been a death of a child that was not medically anticipated,” Reg Griffin, agency spokesman, said in an emailed statement. “In this incident, DECAL found serious rule violations contributed to the death of a child.”
Thomas Stephens, of Roswell, died from asphyxia, or lack of oxygen, according to Alpharetta police and the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office. Investigators believe the child’s death was attributed to hanging.
Police and firefighters were called at 9:54 a.m. Monday to the center, located on Shady Grove Lane, and arrived to find a woman performing CPR on the boy, George Gordon, spokesman for Alpharetta police, said in a news release. Firefighters began emergency life-saving measures.
Thomas was transported to a hospital, where he died Wednesday night, the medical examiner’s office said.
“We believe this is a tragic accident,” Gordon told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We believe he was caught on a loop of twine while playing on a slide.”
Daycare owner Janna Thompson has until Monday at 2 p.m. to appeal DECAL’s decision before an administrative law judge with the Office of State Administrative Hearings, Griffin said. If she does not appeal, the facility must close immediately and stay closed for 21 days while the agency determines what actions should be taken.
In a Jan. 27 licensing study at the center, a DECAL representative cited hazards on the playground, according to findings posted online.
“It was determined that the following hazards were observed on the outdoor play area: a wheel barrow located against the left fence, an unraveled water hose located to the right of the wooden deck, excessive tree limbs and pine cones were observed throughout the outdoor play area,” the report states. “Consultant observed two protruding nails to the right of the wooden ladder on the wooden climber on the outdoor play area.”
On the same day, a plan of improvement was discussed with Thompson, according to DECAL.
“To ensure the health and safety of children, the home provider will remove hazards from outdoor play area before use,” the report states.
State inspectors had not returned to the center until this week, following the incident on the slide, Griffin said.
A phone call to Thompson’s home, where she runs the center, was not returned Thursday evening. But the daycare’s website shows several pictures of smiling children playing, along with words from Thompson and testimonials from parents.
“Our children are the future and how they are cared for now helps to develop who they will become!!” the website states. “Providing quality childcare for children allows me to be a positive influence in this process.”
— Angel K. Brooks contributed to this report.