Wesley Child Care Issues Letter Addressing Cardenas Drowning

Center responds to the tragic death of a 4-year-old at Roosevelt Pool and specifies programming changes planned for the rest of summer.

One week after the executive director of the Glenview-based center expressed her sympathy and outlined program changes in a letter to families.


“Words cannot express the heartache, sympathy and concern we have for the family of Vicente Cardenas,” Ellen Fagerburg wrote in a letter to Wesley families Thursday evening. Pioneer Press shared the letter on its website Friday. (Read the entire letter to the right).

canceled its preschool swimming lessons for the rest of the summer, and will refund parents who have already paid for them, according to the letter.

Fagerburg also added that parents would be informed about swimming activities for school-age children when the Glenview Park District lifts the

Shortly after the release of the letter however, the Park District announced that in an attempt to decrease the number of swimmers at the pool.

Wesley will resume its field trips for school-age children, but will revise its preschool field trip program, according to the letter. New field trip permission slips will be issued as well.

Cardenas was one of 19 children visiting Roosevelt Pool on a field trip from Wesley when he was  Older children reportedly noticed him in a fetal position at the bottom of the pool and alerted lifeguards. 

Cardenas was given CPR at the pool deck then rushed to Glenbrook Hosptial where

"If a 4-year-old who couldn't swim wound up downed, it means that someone failed to supervise and we all need to understand exactly how this happened," said Val Gurvits, the victim's uncle, in an interview with ABC 7. 

According to the letter, Wesley’s staff will not discuss Cardenas’ drowning with parents, as the investigation into the incident remains open and the center is currently receiving legal counsel.

Both the and Department of Child and Family services are currently conducting investigations.

“We want you to know that Wesley is continuing to provide the safest, most nourishing, healthiest environment for your children to learn and grow,” Fagerburg wrote. 

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AZK June 23, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Wesley is not safe! It is my understanding there was another death in the 90's....That's two deaths too many for me to ever consider sending my child there
LS June 23, 2012 at 01:24 PM
I felt very unfulfilled after reading this letter. It pains me to know that the Cardenas family has just as little information about this incident as the public.
A Concerned Parent June 23, 2012 at 05:52 PM
It is imperative that the media continue to follow this case and report the results of the investigation so the entire community knows where the failures lie, be it the daycare, the lifeguards, the park district. This is not to point the picture at anyone or any group, just that the public needs to know.
Glenview Parent June 23, 2012 at 08:24 PM
I am curious as to the comment above stating another death in the 90's. What are the details of this, I would want to know what happened and why. As parents we need to have information. Its going to affect who and where are children are entrusted going forward. Thank you for any additional information you can provide.
Michael hugo June 24, 2012 at 01:42 PM
We have had two children that have attended Wesley from the age of 2 and have found it to be a great place for their development. We have not had any safety concens and the staff has been great, even keeping in touch and going to the kids non-Wesley events like sporting events. We are thankful to their staff and to the services they have provided.
Joanna Schneider June 24, 2012 at 03:42 PM
I wanted to jump in regarding the alleged 90s death mentioned here in the comments. Patch has previously reported that no other serious investigations by the DCFS have occurred in the child care center's history. For more on DCFS's involvement in the investigation of Vicente Cardenas' drowning and comment from agency officials: http://patch.com/A-vxb5
Leslie A June 24, 2012 at 04:35 PM
So unfortunate that it took the life of a child to bring some sense to the child care center and the pool to NOT take preschool aged children there without their parents while the pool is open to the public, WOW. So sad, my sincerest condolences to the Cardenas family....
A Glenview Middle school parent June 25, 2012 at 02:41 AM
It's a reactive vs. proactive situation. I wonder if all has to do with cost cutting as Glenview is strapped for cash and the counties continue to pressure all institutions. For instance, District 34 middle school is planning to eliminate their security position and "empower teachers' to be the safeguard for our kids. HOPEFULLY, we are not in a situation where a tragedy occurs for the school district to figure out our children need to be safeguarded and protected. I wonder if cost pressures led to hiring young, inexperienced teachers and or really not adhering to the child/teacher ratio.
A Concerned Parent June 25, 2012 at 04:18 PM
With all due respect, the Cardenas family may disagree with your post at this time. @Joanna, have the Glenview Police or any of those agencies investigating this tragedy given any idea on how long it will be before they release their findings?
Joanna Schneider June 25, 2012 at 04:42 PM
@AConcernedParent, no word from Glenview PD or DCFS when investigations will be complete. Until that time, neither agency will release further information. As soon as we have more more details, we'll pass those on to readers. Stay tuned for updates.
Joanna Schneider June 25, 2012 at 05:24 PM
In addition to comment from DCFS confirming that this is the first serious investigation involving Wesley Child Care Center, Patch also followed up with Glenview PD this morning. According to police records, Wesley has not been cited in other investigations.
A Concerned Parent June 25, 2012 at 05:41 PM
Much appreciated, thanks!
G June 26, 2012 at 02:20 PM
What I would like to know is there are a gazillion life jackets at this pool - HELLOOOOOOOO why was he NOT IN ONE? Seriously distraught parent. ;(.
A Concerned Parent June 26, 2012 at 06:05 PM
That would be question # 2 for the teacher/guardian from Wesley - # 1 would be where were you when he was noticed by other swimmers in the pool.
Dad June 26, 2012 at 11:46 PM
Correction: it would be the question for the SEVEN or EIGHT Wesley caretakers who let Vincente drown. And then let him be found by other children.
Concerned Parent June 27, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Wesley IS responsible for this extremely unfortunate incident, as a parent I can't imagine what Vicente's family is going through. My heart aches for them... I am angry to read that Wesley has been non-responsive to the parents in addressing what exactly happened to their son! The least this center could do is provide them with answers! I was looking at this center for after school care in the fall for my daughter, and there is NO WAY I would trust them to look after my little one! Saddest part of this whole thing is CHILDREN discovered Vicente not the people that were being paid to look after him, truly disgusting!
Waiting for the right thing June 28, 2012 at 01:18 AM
This center should take responsibility and call their insurance carrier to issue a settlement. The preschool administrators are obviously trying to save their jobs. I can't say I could blame them, initially at least, but it doesn't get any worse than this. Do the right thing and tell the family what happened to their child. It is literally the LEAST you can do. Don't any of you have children? Put yourself in the victim's parents' shoes.
GV June 28, 2012 at 11:38 PM
"They found him in the fetal position" - Do you realize how powerful and unbelievably heart breaking that statement is? My Lord ;(
Val Gurvits June 29, 2012 at 12:13 AM
I write once again on behalf of the family of Vicente Cardenas. We are thankful to all for your words of comfort and your sympathy. We continue to be frustrated by the lack of information from Wesley School and from the authorities. We are therefore asking anyone that has any videos from that day (Friday, June 15th) at Roosevelt Pool to please step forward and share it with us. We would like to obtain any possible evidence about the number of people at the pool, the possible location of Vicente's group, the caregivers, the lifeguards, etc. Thank you. I can be reached at vgurvits@bostonlawgroup.com or 617-928-1804.
Brittany July 07, 2012 at 01:40 AM
@ A Parent- what warning signs were there before? If you don't want to publicly share you should at least contact Vicente's uncle. It is deplorable that this daycare has kept Vicente's parents in the dark. This has not affected only the Glenview neighborhood, it has angered parents all over the Chicagoland area. To the Cardenas family we all stand beside you and if there is anything we can do all you need is ask.
A Glenview Parent July 18, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Last I heard, the current Wesley families will be asking the Wesley Board and their current administration for a meeting. Without any information, many of the families are still very wary leaving their children in the center's care. I also know that many of the families have been contacted by a few attorneys. The parents would not be able to sue Wesley directly but they can sue on behalf of their children. Especially those who were on site that day. It was explained that Wesley had a "duty to care" for these kids and though, tragically, we lost Vicente, each and every one of the other 18 children were put in harm's way and were in a dangerous situation. It was explained to me by one attorney that she speculates that the main reason for Wesley's silence, to all involved, is because if each parent knew what the Wesley staff were doing at the time of the loss, every parent would be suing the center individually for failure to provide safe environment.


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