Home » Most Read » Parents Launch Social Media War Against Tamarac Children’s Play Center

Parents Launch Social Media War Against Tamarac Children’s Play Center

Date posted: June 20, 2012

A children’s play center  is being accused of kicking special needs children out of their facility causing parents to launch a social media war against them on Facebook and Twitter.

On Tuesday, ARC Broward’s Kamp Krayola campers which consisted of 30 children ages 5 through 12 who have autism and other special needs, went on a field trip to Funtastic Cafe in Tamarac. According to ARC Broward, the trip was reserved in advance, and Funtastic Cafe’s staff was made aware that the children have special needs. The group was scheduled from 12 – 3p.m.

The camp arrived late to their session, according to Doug Caires, Manager of Funtastic Cafe, who said this wasn’t the problem. The first problem he said was that campers were naked in the middle of both the men and women’s bathrooms and customers complained. During this time, Caires observed one of the counselors sitting in the back reading a book and not overseeing the campers.

He said that the children were disruptive to other people that were using the facility and not being watched closely.

“I knew the situation and that these campers had special needs, and one counselor was working hard. We tried to accommodate them, but they had no supervision and customers complained and two customers left.” – Doug Caires, Manager of Funtastic Cafe

He told one counselor that they should be walking around watching the children. Children were playing in the wrong areas for their age and size which created a dangerous situation for smaller children. Caires even told a counselor that he would report them to the owner of ARC Broward.

Because they arrived late, their time was cut short, and at 3 pm their session was over. Broward ARC wanted to stay later, and Caines said that if the children were better supervised, he would have let them stay, but with the complaints, he asked them to leave.

Asked for a response,  ARC Broward sent out a press release with their version of events which stated that they were asked to leave at 1:30pm, well in advance of their session expiring. They also wrote that while assisting the two campers with using the restroom, the counselor slid on the wet bathroom floor, that wasn’t caused by the campers using the bathroom, and asked another ARC staff member to get help to dry the floor.

“The disappointing behavior by one local business owner did hit home for a lot of us today,” states Dennis Haas, CEO of ARC Broward. “As an organization committed to providing a better, more fulfilled life for those individuals with autism and developmental disabilities and their families, ARC Broward will continue to work toward achieving a greater awareness for acceptance and inclusion.”

Caires insists that if they had proper supervision on the equipment and weren’t disruptive, they would have been welcome to stay longer.

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  • http://sleeepingsara.wordpress.com Sara

    The owner neglected to mention that he made an announcement over the loud speaker for the kids to leave. His own staff was in tears over his treatment of these children. There were plenty of Mom’s there, all reporting the same thing, from what I’ve seen. And their versions are consistent with what ARC is saying.

    • http://www.tamaractalk.com Editor

      From the Editor:

      Sara, the manager told us in his interview that he did make an announcement for the children to leave. It was due in part he said because the counselors were unable to properly supervise the children. He reiterated that it had nothing to do with the children themselves, but the behavior that was affecting other customers enjoyment of the facility.

      Thanks for your response.

    • http://www.funtasticcafe.com Funtastic Cafe

      Funtastic is responding with the correct version of this event at Funtastic. First of all I would like to personally apologize to all who have been offended by our so called actions. We did not at any point disrespect the children campers or see any fault in them. All children are special and valued by us.

      All camps are scheduled for 2 hours not 3. The times allowed have been posted on or website since we opened. Should a camp come late they lose the time they are late since we need to clean up after a camp and make room for the next camp and open play customers. When they arrived late, I told them I would try to give them an extra ½ hour for free. They were asked to leave at 2:15 fifteen minutes into the free overtime.

      Unfortunately, several of the counselors sat down, drank soda, chatted, and one read a book instead of doing their job. When the naked 12 to 14 year old boy was found in plain view in the restroom and the counselor said the boy did not want to put clothes on and would not go into the large handicapped stall, I had to ask them to leave. They then had one of the hard working counselors go into the restroom and they got the boy dressed.

      The CEO Dennis Haas told me I was lucky because some times their campers get naked and go out into the public areas. Funtastic is designed so all children can have a Funtastic time. To allow all to have a great time, all the rules must be followed.

      I hope all can see Funtastic loves all children and all are welcome. We invite you to come check us out.

    • http://www.funtasticcafe.com Funtastic Cafe

      All camps that visit when it is time to go are told over the loud speaker it is time to go.

      No Mom that was there would have agreed with anyone but the management since it was the Mom customer that complained about the nudity and left.

      ARC said they were “thrown out” if that is asking a camp to leave 15 minutes after they were suppose to leave then only because the do nothing counselors refused to put cloths on the naked campers then ok. We feel asked to leave is the proper wording!

  • Laurie G.

    I feel for any parent of an autistic child. They have their hands full as this is the most difficult job I’ve ever seen. I also feel bad for the patrons of the business that had to witness what probably looked to them like uncontrollable children. These people paid for their children to get in as well and it’s not fair if the children aren’t properly supervised by their counselors.

    I realize that the parents are upset and are blaming the business for discriminating against their children with disabilities, but the way I see and others will too is that they had to leave because their counselors were doing a poor job controlling them around others. They should be upset about that and not blame the business. OK I’m done.

    • Julie

      Laurie,

      Try hard not to be like the owner, Doug. You weren’t there and can’t speak to if the children were being properly supervised. As an employee of the camp, they most certainly were. You’re being no better than Doug. OK I’m done too.

    • Lori

      @ Laurie: Funny…you felt bad for the parents who had to witness? Were you there? What did they witness? And, do you ever feel bad for parents with special needs kids when they have to endure typical kids being unruly, disrespectful, lack of obedience, etc?

      Everyone failed to mention: that bounce house activities are incredible for children with autism, the movement and stimulation would actually place them in a different scenario, calmer in some areas and
      movement seeking in another. With 23 counselors there and 30 kids, it’s hard to imagine that these children were not able to be somewhat controlled. BUT have you ever been at a party with NO ONE watching 30 kids? Funny how the tables could turn easily and a warning would most likely be given to this party. Here, ARC received no warning.

      Lastly: watch Channel 7, Channel 4 and Channel 6 …see what the employees had to say! Then retract your comment please.

  • Patty

    ARC sent 23 staff to work with 30 children – hardly lack of supervision. I also think that it is important to mention that two Funtastic Café staff that were working at the time where so horrified by the behavior of the owner that they contacted ARC to apologize for the incident. If other patrons were offended by the children, then shame on them. As parents they should have taken the opportunity to educate their children about differences and compassion for others.

    • Monica

      Amen Patty, I agree with you 100%. Parents should educate their children about being accepting and friendly to others regardless of their differences. I think that sometimes parents don’t know how to go about doing this. I would say just treat others the way you want to be treated. In other words, show your children how they should behave and hope that they will respond appropriately when the time comes. In this situation I would say smile and say hi to the disabled child. Then, depending on the child’s disability I might ask them if they would like to play a game or dance with me. Of course it’s important to speak with those supervising the children to make sure that’s okay. I don’t agree with a parent who simply takes their child out of an environment filled with children who have special needs (except under very rare circumstances). By doing this a child may begin to see differences as something to be avoided or something bad. I believe that Doug Caire wasn’t exposed to children with disabilities from a young age and if he was, the experience wasn’t positive. This is what caused him to feel uncomfortable. Therefore, he needed to come up with any excuse that would allow him to get rid of the children much sooner.

  • Patty

    By the way there will be a story running on at 5:30 p.m. on Channel 4 (NBC) and at 6:00 p.m. on Channel 7 (WSVN) regarding the incident that occured yesterday at the Funtastic Cafe.

    • http://www.tamaractalk.com Editor

      Thanks for the heads up Patty, the ARC Facebook page says:

      Tune in tonight at 5:30 on NBC Channel 6 and at 6:00 p.m. on Channel 7 to watch the coverage surrounding the incident that occurred yesterday involving ARC Broward’s Kamp Krayola and the Funtastic Cafe in Tamarac.

      in our area, NBC is Channel 6.

    • Laurie

      The story will run at 5:30 p.m. on NBC Channel 6 and WSVN Channel 7 at 6:00 p.m.

      • Robin H

        Was not on at either time. Any update on the broadcast?

  • Betsy

    @ Laurie G. Please don’t “feel” for parents of children with autism (not “autistic”). We don’t need your sympathy. What we do need, is to live in a community that doesn’t exclude our children. I just watched the Local 7 news report and the employee’s reported that the kids from ARC were NOT disturbing any of the other customers. The manager declined to go on camera but his statement was inexcusable.

  • Betsy

    p.s. Funtastic Cafe deleted all posts regarding this incident from their Facebook page. Hmmmmmm…

  • Elsie G

    ARC is a very reputable organization and has never dealt with such ignorance. This is unacceptable in this day and age and for those making negative comments without even being present, shame on you! Luckily, you do not have a special needs child to care for! This is an example of the discrimination and lack of morals we live in today!I am done too!

  • John Joe

    Funtastic Cafe and its owner/manager/business officer (all the same person in this case) should be ashamed of its actions. The actions were extremely discriminatory. I am also told that not only the version presented by ARC were collaborated by two employees of Funtastic Cafe, additionally, one of those employee of the Cafe was ashamed of the mgmt behaviors/actions, quit. This ought to speak volume to the public.

  • Rosie P

    Today is Kamp Krayola’s 10th Anniversary….10 years and you never had a problem like this one before. That says a lot about the staff and the children they serve..Keep up the good work. Don’t let the Dougs of the world rain in your parade….Happy Anniversary Kamp Krayola!!!

  • Kammie

    Laurie G- Dont feel “bad” for parents of children with “autism”, feel
    bad for parents of “typical” children who are being taught to discriminate against others whom are different. This is a prime example. As a mother of two special needs children I can tell you I have seen more lack of control in typical children than some with a disability. Most parents would smile at seeing our kids socializing and playing with others, children do not naturally discriminate against other children until they “learn” it. Guess who is teaching them? What is unique about our special kids is they will never learn to discriminate, nor hate or judge. Don’t feel bad, we are lucky to have such beautiful kids.
    And according to the staff, no parents left, there were 23 counselors to 30 kids which is above and beyond what is needed. This was a planned event and the owner himself made his statement which showed his true colors. Employees in tears, two spoke out about the terrible treatment these kids were given and one quit… Don’t blame the staff, correct, blame the owner!

  • Craig B

    I believe as a business owner who caters to children this could have been handled drastically different. Forgetting for just one moment that you’re dealing with special needs children, these are children and children will be children. This means that they will do things to jeopardize their own safety such as utilizing equipment not intended for their age, size, etc. To even suggest that the ARC counselors were not doing their jobs is outrageous. Funtastic Cafe collected a premium and agreed to provide a service to the group, it is their responsibility to advise what the children should and should not play with. When you go to Disney World and ride an attraction, the employees of Disney World are there to ensure the families safety. That’s their job, they work for Disney. Now going back to special needs, as a business owner knowing that a group of special needs children is coming to your place of business, if you are not equipped to handle that, then do not accept the check from the organization. Autistic children are a very large part of our world today, and if you as a business owner are unable to accommodate, then do not accept the gratuity. I personally was at the facility last week for a birthday party, and I saw the $5.00 plastic gates laying on top of the motor used to inflate the bounce houses, really do not believe that those safety precautions are up to any type of acceptable code. I know that the bathrooms in the facility are not maintained throughout the day, so I have every bit of confidence the counselor did fall due to a dirty bathroom floor. Even for a moment to blame a child, autistic or not for coming out naked to help them get dressed, because the counselor slipped on the floor is just outrageous. Perhaps the manager of this place should be running a nursing home or flipping hamburgers somewhere. It just does not seem like this business is going to survive when the sun sets.

  • Lexi

    I was there and I have to say that at NO POINT did any children come OUT of the bathroom naked. The children were in the bathroom with their assigned staff for the purpose of having their necessary toileting needs taken care of (they had diapers that needed changing). Yes, many children with Autism and other Developmental Disabilities are still 10, 12, or even older before they are able to take care of these needs on their own. Our staff was doing their job to help change and clean the children as discreetly as possible. Who would enter a bathroom and see a child being helped in this way and be offended??? Hence the term “special needs”. I will continue to defend our staff, who were watching our children the entire time, as they do every day and in every location. The testimony of the 2 female employees shows that our children did not misbehave at all. Let’s use some reasonable accommodation and flexibility, shall we? And by the way, NO complaints were made by the owner until he kicked us out… even when we were told to leave he still did not have any specifics to site or say ANYTHING about the bathroom issue. If he saw any staff sitting in a chair, it was because 2 of us had to guard the front and back exits, which were not secured. With 21 staff left to supervise the kids while they play, this hardly made a difference in the children’s behavior, but would have been a life or death situation if any child had been able to get out of the unlockable doors.

  • Jo

    @Laurie G. As a parent of an autistic child (sorry BETSY if my verbiage of my son offends you!) I fully agree with you. While I think the owner may be at fault, you are 1000% on the money that the responses to you have been venomous & nasty. I see it all too often that parents (predominately females) have a huge chip about how the world should treat their special needs kids. Guess what folks, the world is cruel, unfair and can suck sometimes…and that is universal, regardless of your child’s capabilities. Worry about your kids, educate kindly when possible, and most of all, don’t condemn those who dare disagree.

  • Gabrielle

    What is fighting back and forth solving? Nothing. I am outraged! I have lived in Tamarac almost all of my life and I have NEVER heard of ANYTHING like this! Tamarac prides itself on support children with special needs through sports, the Special Olympics and other activities. The fact that this manager made these kids leave in the middle of their field trip is ridiculous! He needs to be taught a lesson in compassion! Maybe follow up this incident with community service at ARC to see that these children are, just that, children! Too many people will stop and stare at others that look different or are “special.” This society needs to wake up already! Step into a classroom full of “special” children and tell me that you won’t fall in love with at least one of them by the time you leave at the end of the day! I have written to this company through their website, not Facebook. Here is that address-http://funtasticcafe.com/contact.php He needs to know that the community doesn’t tolerate bullying!!!!

  • Kristal

    Shame on that mother that said patrons with typical children have a right not to be interrupted while they are having fun by children who have special needs. What if tomorrow you found out you were pregnant and when your child is born he/ she has a disability such as autism…mmm now the tables are turned…then what do you want someone telling your child to leave an establishment because of a tantrum that vould possible occur.. Or your child is in diapers at 14 where would you change him at funtasticafe…all is possible right

  • Kammie

    Laurie G- please re read your original post. Then you can realize how “intolerant” your “respectable” letter sounded. You may not have realized how it came across. It sounded more like “I feel bad for the people who had to see and deal with your kids”. No one should be angry with you, I agree to a point. You may not have known all the facts when you posted that. I personally was letting you know and trying to give you an understanding of our kids. As for respect, the children did not receive it nor the staff members at the establishment or camp. Don’t worry about respect for you. As a woman and mother I assume you don’t need that from a comment board, and if you do? Wahhh!!

  • Kristal

    I am just saying for parents with children with a disability that is their reality. Have a heart because having a special needs child can happen to any parents these days. Goggle the statistics for children born with autism and see what your chances are before you start being heartless…

  • Lexi

    Whether or not the “world can be cruel”, as a business establishment is there not an obligation to treat all the customers fairly? Children with special needs have a right to be welcomed at these community places without prejudice, and are paid customers like anyone else. For many of the ARC campers, this is their only opportunity during the summer to socialize with peers and to have rich community learning experiences. These are things that perhaps families of typical kids take for granted because it usually just comes naturally. (Notice I said PERHAPS- no accusations here)… I have no animosity for anyone’s opinion, but really just feel surprised that some people are quick to take the side of the business owner, who benefitted financially from this situation and has shown zero sympathy towards how he treated the children. Even though he knew we were coming, I do believe that he felt uneasy with our presence and was taken off guard. However, he could have at any point asked me or any other staff member about the needs of this population and discussed any behaviors he had concerns with. I would have been happy to discuss this with him and help to alleviate his worry. He just wasn’t interested in anything but getting us OUT. I can say that because I was the one he spoke to. No rumors here- now you have it straight from the source… Feel free to ask for details or clarification if you want.

  • Betsy

    Sorry, JO…I respectfully disagree. No, I don’t call my child autistic, I call him by his name. And I don’t think mothers of children with autism have a huge chip on their shoulders. We advocate for our kids and speak up when they are mistreated just as any caring mother would do. To say that the world is just cruel is a cop out and unacceptable to me.

    • Jo’s & Laurie’s fan club

      Betsy…huge difference between actually being mistreated, perceiving mistreatment and then overreacting not knowing the difference. I assure you if I showed up late for a party & my kids weren’t angels, no business in their right mind would extend that. The rules seem straight forward…except to the Aspie mom’s that have there granny panties twisted about injustices. Follow rules, keep your pants on, play nice, and then maybe you’d get special consideration…but to assume special consideration because your special?!? Like I said, the world ain’t fair.

  • allison

    I have been to funtastic cafe with my son. We were treatly poorly from the moment we entered the place. I followed him from each bounce house and they had come over to him 8 different times. I found it to be very harassing. He was just going up and the down the bounce houses. I think the owner opened a bounce house place but really doesn’t want kids to come to it.

  • Jo’s & Laurie’s fan club

    Jo, godbless a normal mom standing up to say, hey I got this…don’t blow it out of preposition. Laurie, your support fell on deaf ears. Seems latest report is the “employee” that quit is actually an ARC employee, allegedly. So who can you REALLY believe??? ME!

  • Lexi

    @Jo and Laurie, I don’t know where you got that information. It is one of the Funtastic employees that has quit. Both girls that were interviewed (without showing their face) were Funtastic employees. However, the editing of the Channel 4 new story did make that a little unclear.

  • http://sleeepingsara.wordpress.com Sara

    I don’t have a special needs child and am still offended by the response of this business. Do I have a “chip on my shoulder” too? No one here was asking for special treatment. The owner was wrong in his asking the kids to leave early. I DO NOT believe that he was asking them to leave at their scheduled time, based on what I’ve read from the ARC employees and heard from the Funtastic employees. The fact that one of the employees quit over this is very telling.

    But regardless of any of that, if the owner truly did nothing wrong, don’t you think his response would have been different? When he has responded, he has been snarky at best. He hasn’t defended his actions because he can’t. What he did was inexcusable and a very poor business decision to boot. There are many of these places in town that would be thrilled to have ARC come to their facility. This is especially true when you look at ARC’s track record – 10 years and never a complaint.

  • Betsy

    Jo & Laurie fan club? Really? Who’s overreacting? You’ve got all your facts wrong regarding this incident and for some reason have decided to use it as an opportunity to take a shot at Aspie moms. Sounds like you’re the one with the big chip. Nobody asked for special treatment here and according to the witnesses, the kids were behaving. Yet the manager made some inappropriate comments and decisions. Can’t blame “the world” for being unfair…just this guy.

  • Betsy

    p.s. I hope the parents of these kids sue his pants off.

  • Robin H

    Maybe if parents of special needs kids (mine is in college now) didn’t have to constantly fight tooth and nail to make sure their children were treated equally, they wouldn’t have a “chip on their shoulders”. That “chip” is not a chip of entitlement, it is a MEDAL OF VALOR!

  • Marissa rybnar

    I have to say as a parent I’m disgusted with the OWNER Doug’s behavior towards special needs children
    It’ was not the 1st time this has happened there and it won’t be there last
    I will be giving ALL my business from now on to Jumpzone and pump it up
    Never ever again