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Heroin scare prompts YWCA review Agency to assess its 4 day care centers

The YWCA of Western New York, responding to an incident in which a 5-year-old boy brought heroin to one of its day care centers, will conduct an agencywide review of its staff and procedures for all its child care services.

The agency could have reopened its Early Childhood Center at Schoolhouse Commons on Grant Street upon approval of a revised staffing plan by a state agency, but said it will delay reopening until the end of August.

Instead, it will assess its four day care centers -- including Schoolhouse Commons -- and its three drop-in centers for costs, staffing, rules and operating effectiveness, Katherine Lwebuga-Mukasa, the chief executive officer of the local YWCA, said Friday.

"Every crisis can be an opportunity, and we decided internally that although we are free to do what it takes to reopen, it would make a lot more sense to pause and take stock of our entire program," Lwebuga-Mukasa said. "Once this is complete, Schoolhouse Commons will reopen."

Friday's announcement follows an agreement struck June 28 between the YWCA and the state Office of Children and Family Services that called for staffing plans to be re-examined at the YWCA Early Childhood Center at Schoolhouse Commons on Grant Street.

The day care facility has been closed since the boy circulated portions of a "10-pack" of heroin to as many as five other children, including his 2- and 4-year-old sisters, at the facility on June 12. Six children were taken to Women and Children's Hospital. None became seriously ill.

Buffalo police have not yet established the source of the heroin. The boy's parents, Wayne Clamp and Kari Lyn Lee, think their son found it on the morning walk to the day care center from the family's Howell Avenue house. Authorities removed the boy and three other children from their home after the incident.

The settlement with the state did not require the YWCA to re-examine any of its facilities other than Schoolhouse Commons. However, Lwebuga-Mukasa said the YWCA felt it provided an opportunity to strengthen its operationsagencywide.

"With all these facilities equally vulnerable to outside influences like we experienced at Schoolhouse Commons, we felt it was a useful time and proactive opportunity to review our entire operation and bolster everything about all of them, not just focus on one," she said.

Besides Schoolhouse Commons, the YWCA also operates early childhood learning centers in Buffalo at the Father Belle Center on Maryland Street; the Makowski Early Childhood Center on Jefferson Avenue as well as one in Gowanda.

It also operates three drop-off centers in Erie County Family Court, Buffalo City Court and the Buffalo Employment and Training Center.

Meanwhile, an Aug. 15 pretrial conference is scheduled before Erie County Family Court Judge Patricia A. Maxwell in what is being considered a neglect case against Clamp and Lee.


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