The West Side day care center shut down this week after a 5-year-old boy distributed heroin to other children has been cited by the state for failure to properly handle the emergency, according to documents obtained by The Buffalo News.
On Tuesday, the state Office of Children & Family Services suspended the license of the YWCA Early Childhood Center at Schoolhouse Commons. It made the decision based on the "determination that the health, safety and welfare of children in the day care are in imminent danger," read a letter that was hand-delivered to the center's director, Kimberley M. Michalski.
Tuesday morning, the boy somehow obtained a "ten-pack" of heroin and gave it to his sister and other children at the day care center.
Six of the children, including the boy and his sister, were taken by ambulance to Women and Children's Hospital.
The 5-year-old boy who brought the heroin to the Grant Street day care facility, his 2-year-old sister and a 2 1/2 -year-old classmate tested positive for the drug but none suffered serious injuries from the ingestion.
The parents of the boy, Wayne Clamp, 36, and Kari Lyn Lee, 27, told police and reporters that they believed the boy found the drugs while being walked to the Grant Street day care center and mistook the heroin for candy.
Social workers have since removed the boy and his sister, along with two other siblings, from their parents' care while police sort out what happened.
Family Court Judge Patricia A. Maxwell placed the children in the custody of Lee's mother, pending a July 11 court date.
Although the couple has supervised visitation from 8 a.m. until bed time, they feel removing their children from their house is unfair to them and especially unfair to their children who "just want to come home" and become upset when their parents leave them for the night.
"If they can't prove it came from my house, why did they take my kids away?" Lee asked.
"There are a lot of kids who have parents that are doing drugs or dealing drugs; they have their kids," she said. "My kids are well taken care of. I'm trying to do jobs and work . . . and here, my kids are taken away from me."
Two friends of the couple -- Tim Pauly and Paul Andolina, both of Arcade -- say Clamp and Lee are getting a raw deal, arguing the two are very involved parents who "try their hardest" to provide for their children.
"These people are good people," Pauly said. "These people take care of their kids and they're good kids."
Buffalo police are continuing to investigate how the heroin got into the boy's hands. As of late Friday, no charges had been filed in the case.
"Our efforts right now center on searching for the source of the suspected heroin," said Michael J. DeGeorge, Buffalo police spokesman. "Due to the sensitive nature of this incident, especially one that involved so many young children, we want to make sure that we first protect the interest of those young children."
The state Office of Children & Family Services has specifically accused the center of failing to "obtain emergency health care for children who require such care and in the event of an accident or illness requiring immediate health care secure such care and notify the parent," according to its suspension letter.
Clamp and Lee both say 30 to 45 minutes had passed between the time the heroin was found and when they were first notified by the day care that their children were headed to the hospital. They also allege the day care was understaffed at the time of the incident.
"I think [my son] had it out in the open long enough that they should have found it sooner," Clamp said. "There were just not enough people to watch the kids."
State officials declined to give details Friday about how much of a delay was involved in seeking medical attention for the children.
The office has also accused the day care provider of failing to:
Take suitable precautions to ensure the safety of children.
Keep drugs and other toxic or hazardous materials away from children.
Provide competent supervision.
Notify the state about the incident immediately after it happened.
The day care operator is appealing the findings and an administrative hearing has been scheduled on the matter for June 25, officials said.
YWCA officials did not respond to calls seeking comment.
Records also show that the day care center has been cited numerous times in the past for a range of violations, from unclean and inadequately stocked bathrooms to failing to test and maintain fire alarms and fire suppression equipment.
All the violations listed had subsequently been corrected.
The parents insisted they do not know how their child got hold of the heroin.
Lee also said she was not on drugs and could prove it because she had recently passed two drug tests, taken both before and after Tuesday's incident. She said she took the first test after a family member accused her of being on drugs.
"My house is not a drug house. We don't sell drugs. We don't do drugs," Lee said.
Added Clamp: "I'm angry [authorities] believe [the heroin] was ours."