DCF shutting down Pensacola day care facility where child died

Update 6:05 p.m.: Hobbs said all children at the day care have been picked up by family. He said nobody has been charged in the child's death at this time, but investigators are still completing forensics work and interviews.

Update 5:35 p.m.:

Authorities have removed crime scene tape at the day care and employees are leaving the facility.

Update 5:15 p.m.:

The van that crime scene investigators have been investigating outside the day care is being towed away from the day care facility by authorities.

Update 5 p.m.:

Florida Department of Children and Families has opened a child death investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of a 3-year-old girl at In His Arms Christian Academy in Ensley on Friday. They also ordered an Emergency Suspension Order closing the day care down until further notice.

"As a parent,I am completely heartbroken by the loss of this child," said DCF Secretary Mike Carroll. "DCF has the highest expectations for childcare providers in our state and news of this tragedy is completely unacceptable. Our agency has opened an investigation and we will close this private childcare facility tonight. We have zero tolerance for carelessness that puts child safety at risk and we will work with law enforcement to hold whoever is responsible fully accountable."

Emergency closures are pending for 90 days or until the completion of the licensing investigation. Further action will be determined based on the outcome of the investigation.

A child died in the care of In His Arms Christian Academy Friday, Aug. 18, 2017

In the meantime, DCF officials say they will communicate with the Early Learning Coalition of Escambia County to provide options to the families served through this program.

Update 4:20 p.m.:

The child who died at In His Arms Christian Academy was still alive when authorities first arrived at the scene.

ECSO spokesman Maj. Andrew Hobbs said the 3-year-old girl was transported to an area hospital, where she died.

Everyone involved is accounted for and is being questioned.

Hobbs would not say if anyone was being considered a suspect or a person of interest in the case.

Update 4:15 p.m.:

While police haven't outlined what happened at In His Arms Christian Academy, crime scene cameras are documenting the outside area of the facility, including the inside of a van.

ECSO spokesman Maj. Andrew Hobbs said there's a possibility the child died inside one of the day care's vehicles. Officials haven't said anything more about the cause or circumstances of the child's death.

Authorities have not yet released the name of the 3-year-old girl who died.

One frantic parent rushed toward the police tape surrounding the day care just before 4 p.m.

"Everything's OK," the deputy calmly told the woman.

"Everything is not OK," she responded, clearly exasperated as she and dozens of other parents waited to find out which child had been found dead at the facility earlier that afternoon.

The Escambia County Sheriff's Office is investigating the death of a child at In His Arms Christian Academy in Ensley. Emma Kennedy/ekennedy@pnj.com

As of 4 p.m. there were still dozens of people waiting outside the facility. Some were friends and family of the child care center's employees. Others were just community members.

Deputies on scene weren't able to give much information to the parents who were arriving, fearing for their own children's safety. Many cried as officials brought out their children, scooping them up into their arms.

One young girl was walked out, hand-in-hand with a deputy, carrying a pink book bag. Her younger brother followed alongside her as they left, asking what had happened. "Did a kid die?" he asked, seconds before his mom ushered him into their nearby car, warning him not to ask more questions.

One mother wept as a deputy emerged from the building, one of her kids holding a deputy's hand as another, a tired infant, lay against his chest.

"The bottle's still a bit hot so let it cool first," he told the baby's father as he shuffled the child into his arms.

Update 3:50 p.m.:

ECSO spokesman Andrew Hobbs confirmed the child possibly died in a vehicle owned by the daycare, In His Arms Christian Academy in Ensley. Temperatures ranged between 91 and 94 degrees today in Pensacola in the hours between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Representatives from both ECSO and the State Attorney's Office are on scene.

If authorities determine the Pensacola child was left in a vehicle as suspected, this would be the second death in Florida this month at a day care center in which a child was left in a vehicle. It would be the fifth fatality in Florida this year involving a child left in a hot vehicle, according to kidsandcars.org, a nonprofit organization that works to prevent child deaths. The organization reports 34 children have died nationwide in 2017 due to heatstroke in a vehicle. On average, 37 child perish in hot cars every year - one every nine days.

Three-year-old Myles Hill spent the entire day in a van Aug. 7 outside Little Miracles Academy before he was found that evening. Detectives believe his death was caused by the heat. Temperatures reached a high of 94-degrees Fahrenheit in Orlando on Monday. Temperatures inside a vehicle under the summer sun can rise much higher.

Myles was supposed to have been dropped off in the morning at another Little Miracles Academy day care center but instead the boy was taken to the location where he was found on the floor of the vehicle more than 11 hours later, according to the Associated Press. It was too early to say why Myles was taken to the wrong location, but the driver "did admit to not doing a head count," Mina said.

Florida is No. 2 in the country based on the number of children dying in hot cars. At least 82 Florida children died in hot cars from 1992-2016.

Update 3:40 p.m.:

About a dozen cars are parked around the day care as parents arrive to pick up their children.

As families arrive, they tell police their names, and the officers retrieve the children from the center to be reunited with their parents.

Parents have not been allowed inside.

State Patterson, whose wife's aunt works at the center, was among the people gathered outside.

"The worst thing you can think about is, is is my child," he said. "What if it's my child?"

Update 3 p.m.:

The child who died at In His Arms Christian Academy in Ensley was a 3-year-old girl, according to ECSO spokesman Maj. Andrew Hobbs.

Hobbs said there is a possibility the child may have been found in a vehicle.

Police are treating the entire location as a crime scene until they can determine what happened.

A sign at the day care says it accepts kids starting at 4-months-old and going up to age 12.

Original story

The Escambia County Sheriff's Office is investigating the death of a child at In His Arms Christian Academy in Ensley.

Officers are on scene at the day care center, 8497 N. Palafox St.

Police tape is around the building and dozens of parents are huddled around the building, many of them on cellphones.

Children from the day care are being brought out of the facility one-by-one.

Deputies on scene are not providing parents information about what happened.

ECSO spokesman Maj. Andrew Hobbs said he could not provide further details at this time.