UNIVERSITY PARK — The Bennett Family Center at Penn State is operating under a provisional license from the state after briefly leaving preschool-aged children unsupervised.
Because of that, the Bennett Center had to put about 30 children who are part of a program known as Pre-K Counts in partner programs. The states Pre-K Counts program serves low income, at-risk children.
The state Department of Public Welfare revoked the Bennett Centers regular certificate, replacing it with a provisional one that took effect May 25 and runs through Nov. 25.
Douglas Coatsworth, a Human Development and Family Studies professor who is faculty liaison to the college of Health and Human Development child care programs, said the center self-reported two incidents over the past year.
In one case, a preschool child became distracted and wandered out of a line for five or six minutes while staff went outside to the playground with other children.
According to the July 10 letter from the state to Penn State, that violates the departments regulations on child supervision.
Coatsworth said the second incident was similar a child didnt line up with other children to go outside. Another teacher found the child about four minutes later.
To most peoples minds this may seem like extremely short periods of time, particularly in a building with very good security and a lot of teachers walking around, Coatsworth said in an email. But by law, as a licensed center, we are required to report these incidents and because any time children are involved, we must be extraordinarily vigilant.
He said staff have been going through retraining related to supervision and administrators are working with the state Department of Public Welfare to improve supervision procedures.
These instances are an anomaly for the center, Coatsworth said. Nothing like this has occurred before in the centers more than a decade of operation.
The facility, 123 Bennett Family Center, cares for 120 children from 6 weeks to 6 years old, according to its website.
It had a four-star rating from Keystone Stars, the highest achievement in a voluntary, state program that recognizes quality improvement in child care.
Coatsworth said because the center is on a provisional license it cant receive a Stars rating. That means that children in Pre-K Counts who have to attend centers with three or four-star ratings cant go there.
Fortunately, we were able to place all the children/families who intended to be at the Bennett Center into the programs that had partnered with us on this Pre-K Counts grant, he said.
Anne Danahy can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @AnneDanahy