LANCASTER A young boy is in the hospital after authorities say he nearly hanged himself while at a Lancaster daycare Wednesday.
Both police and the state Department of Social Services are investigating Burbee Place Early Care & Education Center, which in the past two years was the subject of 11 complaints about improper supervision and failure to report incidents to DSS, according to state child care licensing records.
At about 10:50 a.m., police went to the daycare on West Meeting Street after receiving calls about an accident, according to a Lancaster Police report. The boy was taken to Springs Memorial Hospital.
The boy who is either 3 or 4 apparently tied one end of a jump rope to a slide on the playground, said Lancaster Police Capt. Scott Grant. Somehow, he said, the rope wound up around the boys neck.
As the boy slid down the slide, police say, the rope tightened and he began to choke.
Mark Burbee, owner and director of Burbee Place, said the actions of several staff members likely saved the boys life. They rushed to help the boy when they noticed him choking as he went down the slide.
Quite honestly, he said, a couple of the staff members involved were instrumental in saving that child.
Children in the 4- and 5-year-old class were outside playing when the incident happened, Burbee said. There are three slides on Burbee Places playground. The slide the boy played on is about 4 feet tall.
Burbee said the boy is 4. A police report lists his age as 3.
The boy was taken from Springs Memorial by helicopter to Levine Childrens Hospital, where he was still being treated Thursday, Grant said.
Burbee Place is located among a group of doctors offices and medical clinics that surround Springs Memorial Hospital.
The state Department of Social Services, which is responsible for licensing child care facilities, also is investigating the incident, spokeswoman Marilyn Matheus said.
Its unclear when the investigation will be finished, she said.
DSS conducts two unannounced visits to daycare centers across the state each year. The centers are re-licensed every two years during an additional visit, when they also received fire and health safety inspections, she said.
Child services records show that Burbee Place was re-licensed in 2011. Since then, the facility has been the subject of 11 complaints, including three stemming from Wednesdays accident.
Those initial complaints known as deficiencies cite the facility for improper supervision and other regulatory concerns that DSS is still investigating.
Matheus could not comment on those deficiencies because the case is still being investigated.
In November 2012, DSS issued five deficiencies against the facility, citing it twice for improper supervision, failure to report incidents to DSS, and issues with child and attendance records.
Those issues all have been resolved, records show.
Burbee Places Fort Mill center has had 23 deficiencies filed against it within the past two years, including citations for its playground, the physical facility and enrollment violations.
All of those issues were resolved, records show.
Specific details about Burbee Places complaints and what those deficiencies entailed were not available Thursday. The Herald has asked DSS for copies of those files.
DSS works with facilities to correct any problems that are identified during an investigation, Matheus said, then continues to monitor the facility to ensure its compliance with state regulations.
Whatever deficiencies were there...that stuff happens all the time in routine child care, Burbee said. Thats why they (DSS) send people out all the time. We find it and we correct it.
Right now, were more concerned with what happened with this child. Were still getting information. Were trying to figure it all out.
Burbee called Wednesdays accident terrifying.
I think everybodys upset, he said. Were just happy that nothing worse happened. Were still trying to sort it out.
Burbee and his wife first opened The Burbee Place in Fort Mill in 1981, with the goal of providing quality education and a special curriculum for children who are 6 weeks to 12 years old.
The Lancaster location opened in 2003 and now employs about 17 staff members, including teachers and a cook, Burbee said.
Both facilities were open on Thursday.
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