- Associated Press - Thursday, September 10, 2015

WEST FORK, Ark. (AP) - A child at a preschool that’s co-owned by an Arkansas state lawmaker at the center of an adoption controversy this year was left inside a van for several hours, according to police.

West Fork Police Chief Bryan Watts said the 3-year-old girl, who had been strapped to a car seat, was found uninjured in the van Wednesday afternoon at Growing God’s Kingdom preschool, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1gbWzC5 ) reported.

The van has an alarm at the back that drivers are supposed to switch off after each run to make sure all children have exited the vehicle. The driver told police that she walked to the back of the van Wednesday morning and turned off the alarm but didn’t see the girl, Watts said.

“We’re very blessed that it was a little cooler today and the van was parked in the shade,” Watts said. “If it had been much warmer, I don’t think she would have survived it.”

No criminal charges have been filed, but an investigation is ongoing, Watts said. The incident has been reported to the Arkansas Department of Human Services, which said that childcare licensing staff will visit the facility to investigate.

Rep. Justin Harris said in a Wednesday statement that the school would ensure all children are kept in a “safe and loving environment.”

“It is the policy of Growing God’s Kingdom to follow all federal, state and local laws and regulations,” he said. “The incident which occurred today is under an internal review to determine the facts and be sure that all staff members at Growing God’s Kingdom are complying with our policies and procedures.

The Legislature enacted a law banning “re-homing” of adopted children after Harris gave his adopted daughters to a man who later admitted to sexually abusing one of them.

Harris has since said he won’t seek re-election to the state House.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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