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Cardenas Family, Investigators Still Looking for Answers

Following the drowning of 4-year-old Vicente Cardenas earlier this summer, one Wesley Child Care Center parent urges others to share information about the day care center and their experiences with the Department of Child and Family Services.

Dear Fellow Wesley Parents,

Many of us have been sitting on the sidelines, grieving for the Cardenas family, frustrated with the silence, and wondering what we can do to help. As of July 26, officially, . I mean or from DCFS.  

Also, as many of you are aware, . This investigation is centered on the drowning and investigators are directing their attention to only those involved (employees, witnesses, etc).

Many Wesley parents have had their own experiences with the center and those interactions will never be made part of the investigation unless you share them.  

Here’s how you can help:

DCFS (Department of Children and Family Services) is trying to piece together a picture of Wesley Child Care Center but is unable to get any straight information directly from the center. This process is done through attorneys and can take a long time.

These questions from investigators are direct and are meant to answer, mainly, the question of what caused the accident but not necessarily what may have led up to the lack of supervision of this child.  Therefore, it is up to us to provide any/all of the other information necessary to help authorities create an honest picture of how Wesley Child Care was operating its facility and caring for the children leading up to the accident.

I know many of you have encountered a situation with the Wesley center, a question of policy, a preventable injury to your child, a lapse in communication etc. This is the type of information needed.

Please call Carolina Bono (DCFS) at 312-636-3178 or carolina.bono@illinois.gov with any information.  What you might think is inconsequential may be vital in helping piece together a larger picture of Wesley Child Care.

Thank you, 

A Wesley parent

Stay tuned to the latest story developments: Like Glenview Patch on Facebook. 

Parent August 02, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Others should quit giving people a hard time for trying to get facts about a center. The point of free speech is to have an open forum. Certainly, no one should make defamatory or disparaging remarks. But "do you have more information and if so, can you help?" doesn't qualify as either. I'm glad you had a good experience M.H., but it doesn't warrant your attempts to quiet everyone up. I doubt you'd be posting messages to stop requesting information about Wesley, an outstanding institution that has served the community for 30 years, if it were your children. Think it through.
A Concerned Parent August 02, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Joanna who is actually responsible for the investigation into this tragedy? It is now 6 weeks since that horrible day and we have yet to see any reports on their findings. Based on the Letter to the Editor it sounds like DCFS is doing an investigation in Wesley as a whole, looking for past incidents and such. Which I am in complete agreement with. But as I've said in numerous posts, this is a public pool, if any responsibility for this tragic event lies with Glenview Park District or any other municipal subsidiary or subcontractor, doesn't the public have a right to know? * Please note I am not inferring AT ALL that you aren't doing all you can, I just think it is within reason to know who is conducting the investigation.
Joanna Schneider August 02, 2012 at 02:52 PM
@AConcernedParent, As I mentioned in response to your other comments inquiring about the investigation, Patch continues to reach out to Glenview PD regarding updates and developments in the investigation. We have been continually told there is 'nothing new to report' but will keep readers posted as soon as we receive any new information. As frustrating as it is, investigations can be lengthy and it's not too surprising that involved parties don't want to do lots of talking. In the meantime, I encourage you to stay tuned to our Facebook page for up-the-minute news: www.facebook.com/GlenviewPatch. And, as a concerned Glenview resident, you can also feel free to contact these agencies (Glenview PD, DCFS, Wesley) directly.
A mom August 02, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Please keep in mind, the daycare in lincolnshire was eventually closed after one of their employees threw a child on the ground because he was crying. They also lied and tried to cover up the incident. Wesley has never "lied" about the incident but sometimes omission can be taken as guilt.
Concerned Parent August 02, 2012 at 04:15 PM
@Mr. Michael Hugo… I am indeed a PARENT and I am 100% CONCERNED about the safety of all children in our public school and child care centers alike! I drop my daughter off at camp every morning and I trust her center with her care 100%! She has been going there since she was 2 years old and she is now 6. They have done an excellent job helping my child to grow and excel while she has been there…. Now if my daughters center had an tragic event occur as in the case of Wesley I would be shocked and deeply saddened! I would want answers even if it was not my child who was the victim! Now if they refused to provide me with answers (and to my knowledge Wesley is not providing the Cardenas Family nor any other child’s family that attends the center with ANSWERES) I would IMMEDIATELY REMOVE MY CHILD FROM THEIR CARE! I would not be on message boards singing their praise, and pointing out their excellent history! To me their 30 years MEANS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Due to the lack of compassion and insight they have refused to provide the Cardenas Family! The test of a person or institutions true character and in this case Wesley Child Care center is how they handle themselves/itself in the face of extreme adversity! Wesley silence speaks volumes!
Concerned Parent August 02, 2012 at 04:17 PM
(continued) Now some facts for you... 1) A young boy has died in the care of Wesley Child Care 2) His body was discovered by children at the pool where they brought him, and there was no one looking for him or inquiring about his whereabouts prior to this discovery 3) Whomever was assigned by Wesley to look after Vicente was IN FACT NEGLIGENT in their SUPERVISION of him or he would be alive today! I didn’t have to be there to know this, it is public record!
Mr Tibbs August 02, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Parent, Sorry if it appears that im trying to quiet everyone up. That is definitely not my intention and hopefully you read that i encouraged anyone that has relevant information to come forward and present it. I know i relayed what my son recalled seeing that day. I guess I'm frustrated at folks who presume to know the full situation, then pass judgement while hiding behind a psuedonym. This investigation does seem to be taking much longer than i would think it should, but i dont know the details of how the GPD or DCFS is conducting it I do hope the investigation is concluded shortly and the Cardenas family gets the support they need. My prayers are with them.
Joanna Schneider August 02, 2012 at 07:55 PM
@Mom, We just heard back from a spokesperson at District 34 and here's what they had to say re: using Wesley care for the upcoming school year. It looks like Wesley will be working with the school, but it also looks like parents have multiple child care options and can use their own discretion: "Wesley is one of many before and after school care providers in the area - the only difference is that Wesley is the only provider that rents space from District 34 to deliver their programming," said the district's Communications Director Brett Clark via e-mail Aug. 2. "We have agreements in place for the 2012-13 school year for Wesley to again rent space from the District for their programming. Parents have many child care options for before and afterschool care. Based upon the location of those options, many of our students take District transportation to and from the facilities and our schools."
mom August 02, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Thanks for looking into it, Joanna. Surprised (and honestly disappointed) the district is going to continue to have only Wesley operate on school property but hopefully they'll make parents aware of other options that have options for transportation. Thanks again.
A Glenview Parent August 03, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Mr. Hugo, it has been 50 days since the accident and I want you, for just a minute, to put yourself in the Cardenas family shoes. Every morning, after another sleepless night, you call the Glenview Police department to ask if there is any news of the death of your child. You are told not only that they cannot comment but that they cannot release any information until DCFS has completed their investigation. So you call DCFS (an underfunded and severely backlogged government agency) and they tell you they cannot comment and when you ask how long it will take, they say, “it could take another 2 months.” You hang up the phone. Turn to your devastated wife and shake your head, “sorry, nothing.”
A Glenview Parent August 03, 2012 at 03:14 PM
[cont] When you ask Wesley Child Care Center’s Ellen Fagerburg, or Jeanne Harman, what happened that day, they tell you, “we’re so sorry but we cannot comment on anything that occurred that day while there is an investigation.” Leaving you and your family in the dark. You pound your fists on the table. Grab your briefcase, kiss your wife and then try to go to work while inside you are dying because your little one, the most important thing in your life, is gone and you question yourself on how could I have protected him better on that day. And to those that you entrusted to protect him, failed to do so. Not with malice, but failed nonetheless. Now, I want you to multiply the feeling you have at this one particular moment by 24 because you will feel this every hour of the day and then I want you to multiply this by 50 days. That feeling you have right now, that horrible sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, is only the SURFACE of what the Cardenas family is feeling right now. At this very second!
A Glenview Parent August 03, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Dear PARENT- may I remind you that we are not talking about food poisoning or a broken leg. There was, in fact, a policy in place that allowed "the entire group of teachers to be responsible for the entire group of children" that day. Check with other Day Care Centers/Camps and you'll be shocked to learn that other facilities do NOT follow this policy. Most other centers follow this: Each teacher is assigned, and is responsible, for a small group of children. Again, people fail to realize that this LETTER wasn't about defending the good people at Wesley Child Care Center. This LETTER was about allowing parents, who may not have known what to share, a way to share it constructively.
Val Gurvits August 03, 2012 at 05:39 PM
On behalf of the Cardenas family, I will provide in a letter to the editor a more detailed account of our family’s plight in the wake of this tragedy, but for now let me say this: Over a month ago this little boy drowned while under Wesley’s care. From his parents’ point of view, Wesley’s position on this amounts to “your son drowned, here’s his stuff, have a nice day.” That’s not what they actually said, but in essence that’s what it amounts to. Wesley is not releasing any information because of the investigation. The police are not releasing a report because they are waiting for DCFS to complete their investigation. DCFS has not concluded their investigation (although I have reason to believe that they are not doing much). Vicente’s parents, in the meantime, are climbing up walls waiting to learn the basic facts surrounding their son’s drowning. Each day is harder than the previous, and their pain is exacerbated by the lack of information. The system is clearly broken…..
Joanna Schneider August 03, 2012 at 05:42 PM
@Val Gurvits, thank you for sharing the family's perspective during this difficult time. I will stay tuned for your letter.
A Glenview Parent August 03, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Val, It is really a double tragedy. I honestly believe that a PARENT'S RIGHT TO KNOW, morally, supercedes any ongoing investigations and I will do what ever I can to support yours, and the Cardenas Family's, efforts to receive any/all information and to find some peace in knowing. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you... Every day.
A Concerned Parent August 04, 2012 at 06:08 PM
I won't use the word condemn, but I'd be interested to hear your response to Val's letter below, focusing specifically on Wesley's treatment of the parents. While I understand they can't say anything specific with an ongoing investigation, it sure sounds like they have turned their collective backs on the family of this young boy.
A Concerned Parent August 04, 2012 at 06:17 PM
This is where I think the Glenview PD SHOULD release a preliminary finding specifically dealing with the tragedy. It is appalling to me to think they are holding off releasing their findings even to the family. DCFS can still continue to do a full investigation into Wesley's history, but to hold this family hostage waiting to hear the specifics of their child's death is reprehensible. I concur with "A Sad Parent" please know that our thoughts and prayers continue for you and the entire Cardenas family.
Parent August 05, 2012 at 03:48 AM
M.H., well said. I re-read your comments and you did, indeed, encourage parents to come forward with any potentially relevant information.
Mr Tibbs August 07, 2012 at 07:04 AM
'a sad parent', I feel no shame. I feel great grief for the Cardenas family. A sick feeling in the pit of my stomach for their loss. It will not even be in the same universe of what the family is feeling. Any parent that has not gone through the loss of a child, can try to imagine the horror but will not have to live it 24/7/365/forever. But i feel no shame for providing my experiences to help in what i hope is an unbiased investigation. i will stand behind my comments and put my name to them here. If you feel strongly, I'm hoping you would also, instead of using false names. When you state that 'it is important for authorities to know a "systemic pattern of behavior by the center."' it appears, at least to me, that you are not looking to see 'if' there is a pattern, but only for evidence that this pattern exists.
Mr Tibbs August 30, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Joanna, Anything further from DCFS? Where are we in the investigation?
Joanna Schneider August 30, 2012 at 06:32 PM
@MichaelHugo, thanks for your comment. Actually, it looks like the Glenview PD investigation has been completed but they won't release the information without a formal Freedom of Information Act request. Patch has submitted a FOIA to the department and now we're just waiting to hear back. As soon as we have a copy, I'll be working on a story and we'll send out a news alert when it's published on the site. For any readers who aren't already receiving those and would like to be, you can sign up here: http://glenview.patch.com/newsletters And, we'll be posting updates directly to our Facebook Page as well: www.facebook.com/GlenviewPatch. Other questions? Feel free to e-mail me: joanna@patch.com
A Concerned Parent August 30, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Great news, thanks Joanna! Innteresting change, weren't they saying before that they wouldn't release their findings until DCFS finished their investigation? Any insight on why the reversal?
A Glenview Parent August 30, 2012 at 08:27 PM
I have read the report. It is a sad accounting of that tragic day. Three things stand out: 1) it was crowded and 2) teacher coverage was not one-on-one but "all teachers responsible for all children. Seems perfectly logical if applied to a playground setting but not in a crowded public swimming pool. 3) The Wesley teachers, the lifeguards, good Samaritans, and first responders did what they could... and my heart breaks for them and the family. I know a few of you questioned the motivations for asking other parents to come forward with their experiences but I hope you can recognize that sometimes the well-intentioned policies of a day care center are flawed and need to be challenged, reviewed and revised. It could have made all the difference. Had any one of us known our children would not have been assigned to a teacher's direct care and observation, WOULD YOU HAVE LET THEM GO?
Joanna Schneider August 30, 2012 at 08:35 PM
@SadParent, we appreciate your sharing updates. When we publish a story later today with a full account of the report, we will also include a PDF of the complete report for readers who have inquired about it.
A Concerned Parent August 30, 2012 at 08:37 PM
It was 2 children to each adult on the Lincoln Park Zoo field trip the day before this tragedy. And based on that information, parents might have expected the same procedure to be in place. So sad they didn't implement that at the pool, a much more dangerous venue.
A Glenview Parent August 30, 2012 at 09:14 PM
Thank you Joanna.
Joanna Schneider August 30, 2012 at 09:22 PM
@ConcernedParent, For now, I don't have additional insight into why the investigation report was released now as opposed to earlier or later and what tie it has/does not have to the DCFS investigation. It's a very lengthy report with multiple interviews and hopefully, the story we'll publish later today will answer some long-standing questions. Again, we will include a PDF of the complete report along with the story, so anyone who's interested in reading the report in it's entirety can do so.
A Concerned Parent August 30, 2012 at 09:43 PM
Thanks Joanna!
Joanna Schneider August 31, 2012 at 11:21 AM
For those of you who have been awaiting an update story, here's the latest: http://patch.com/A-xyTp
Joanna Schneider August 31, 2012 at 05:38 PM
And two additional updates: 1. Cardenas Family: Wesley Child Care Was ‘Grossly Negligent http://patch.com/A-xyMs 2. Wesley Responds to Glenview Police Drowning Report http://patch.com/A-xzyg I've heard from several Wesley parents wanting to share their stories and how this has affected children at Wesley. If there there are additional families who would like to speak with Patch, feel free to reach out directly as we're working on follow-up stories: joanna@patch.com

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