As a parent, one of my biggest fears is that something will happen to my kids when I leave them in the care of someone else, particularly hired help like a babysitter or daycare.
So, I can only imagine the absolute terror one Florida mother felt when she went to pick up her toddler from daycare and found the place closed down, locked, and lights off — with her toddler still inside. Alone.
In a video that has gone viral on TikTok, mother Stephanie Martinez can be heard trying to stay calm as she dialed 911 to get help because her child was locked in a daycare with not an adult to be found.
The incident happened at the Kinder Care Learning Center in Plantation, Florida, a little north of Miami.
The mother arrived at the daycare to pick up her child, and from the video, it appears that she could see her daughter through two doors, standing alone in a dark room and crying.
Within minutes of calling 911, firemen and police arrived on the scene and broke the doors open, reuniting mother and child.
My heart is thumping, just imagining what kind of terror that poor child endured and what mom must have felt standing there, unable to help her baby.
Understandably, they are both quite upset. Martinez told NBC Miami that her daughter is “super traumatized.”
The one-minute video has been viewed 4.2 million times and has more than 14K comments.
Martinez can be heard telling the 911 operator, “I came to pick her up and she wasn’t here, she’s inside the daycare, she just came up to the door.”
In the video, we can see what appears to be alit vestibule and a small child standing behind a second door where it appears there is no light behind her.
The 911 operator, sounding confused, says, “she’s inside by herself?”
By this point, we can clearly hear that Martinez is crying as she says, “Yeah, she’s crying, she’s inside by herself!”
The operator responds, “Ok, honey, I have an officer on the way there.”
The comments jump to the child’s defense, many wondering who the hell would leave a toddler alone in the dark (seriously, who tf does that?)
One user wrote,
“I would have grabbed anything I could find to break through that door to get my baby, how HORRIFYING. I legit can’t imagine this happening.”
And while I personally agree with this comment in spirit, smashing through glass could have hurt the mother and the child, not to mention caused serious legal trouble for the mother.
She did the right thing by calling 911 and letting the police and fire department handle breaking through the door.
Other comments placed blame on the mother for being late.
Like, apparently a universal consequence for being late to daycare pickup is to leave that child alone in the dark? WTF?
MindNumbTok wrote, “Definitely shouldn’t happen, but how late was she without calling that the place legit closed and the adults are gone???”
Others were quick to shut that blame shit down real fast.
Twitchisastar helpfully noted that “they locked the door at 6:20, mom arrived at 6:28, baby was saved at 6:51. They did not call mom, and they did not answer their phones when she called.”
Others also added that other kids had been picked up less than ten minutes before Martinez arrived.
When people weren’t shaming Martinez for being a few minutes late or suggesting hammers and crowbars to smash through the glass doors, there were others who pointed out the potential for a lawsuit.
One user wrote, “LAWSUIT…I would be filing charges and shutting them down.”
At the time of writing this story, police have not said if they plan to pursue criminal charges; however, child protective services are investigating the incident.
According to TODAY, a spokesperson for KinderCare said in a statement they are “thankful the child was quickly found and was safe, this incident should not have happened.”
Furthermore, the company reached out to a local child protection agency regarding the incident and placed the employees involved on administrative leave while an investigation proceeds.
KinderCare also said that they plan to give their employees, including teachers and staff, training to avoid a repeat scenario in the future.