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State trying to revoke day care's license after repeat violations

Safe Haven has filed appeal, wants to stay open
State trying to revoke day care's license after repeat violations
Posted at 5:37 PM, Oct 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-04 18:08:12-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration is trying to revoke a child care home’s license after repeatedly citing the facility for being over capacity, and failing to follow safe sleep procedures and proper child to staff ratios.

Safe Haven, a licensed child care home, is located at 51st and Michigan Road on the city’s west side.

In a letter to Safe Haven owner Lourene Legge, FSSA said on July 19 an FSSA consultant found 19 children present at the day care with 2 caregivers.

However, Safe Haven is only licensed for 12 children, records show.

Safe Haven was previously placed on probation from October 5, 2015 to March 11, 2016 for being over capacity, not following proper child to staff ratios and failing to follow safe sleep procedures.

FSSA inspectors found the provider was caring for more than 12 children in July 2014, September 2015, October 2015, and July 2016.

During a July 19 visit to the home, FSSA found all exits blocked except for one, records show.

The state had previously cited Safe Haven twice in 2015 for the same fire exit issue.

RELATED: CALL 6: Child's death prompts day care fire questions

FSSA also noted that they offered safe sleep and fire safety technical assistance to Safe Haven, but they refused the assistance.

Safe Haven is appealing the license revocation.

Call 6 Investigates stopped by the child care home Tuesday.

Lourne Legge did not want to be interviewed on camera, but said the allegations are false and they’ve hired an attorney in an effort to stay open.

Safe Haven’s attorney Bradford Johnson said they had a hearing several weeks ago, but an administrative law judge has not yet ruled on their appeal.

“It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to talk about the substance of the case while it’s being handled by the agency,” said Johnson.

The state’s new Child Care Finder website shows Safe Haven’s license status as “enforcement pending.”

Call 6 Investigates spoke with Nicole Norvell, Director of FSSA’s Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning, about child care enforcement in general.

Norvell explained that the state gives a provider an opportunity to fix the problem, and if they don’t, the state has a number of options including probation and license or registration revocation.

Norvell explained the law only allows for an emergency closure in a few specific instances including the death or serious injury of a child, filthy conditions, or building damage from a natural disaster.

Norvell said it's also not their goal to shut down child care providers who've had violations.

The state currently has 4,567 child care providers, including 622 licensed centers and 2,711 licensed homes.

FSSA staff and inspectors conducted more than 10,000 visits to child care facilities in 2015, records show. 

The agency issued four emergency closures in 2015, records show, and issued hundreds of enforcement orders to providers.

"Our job isn't just to go out and police, it's really to support them and help them get better," said Norvell. "We want to be fair."

HOW TO CHECK A CHILD CARE FACILITY:

  • Plug in a provider's name to ChildCareFinder.IN.Gov  and look for complaints, inspection reports and any pending enforcements
  • Use your eyes and ears when visiting. Are they following safe sleep? Is equipment working? Are children strapped into their high chairs?
  • Drop by the child's day care unexpectedly during the day. What is seen at pickup and drop off may be very different than what's happening during the middle of the day
  • Ask to see the provider's license or registration, which should be posted in a public area. If the provider is on probation, it will say so on the license, along with the reasons why.
  • Ask to see a copy of the day care's discipline policy. Corporal punishment is not illegal in the state of Indiana
  • Ask what their current child-to-staff ratio is. Experts say accidents are more likely to happen when staffers are watching a lot of children.
  • Ask if the provider is part of the state's voluntary rating system, called Paths to Quality. The state said this helps guarantee they're meeting and/or exceeding licensing requirements regardless of type of day care
  • If you use an unlicensed facility, know they do not have to submit to background checks, CPR training, safe sleep training and other requirements. Ask to see proof your provider has completed these.
  • For more information, go to ChildCareIndiana.org