ST. PAUL, Minn. - The State of Minnesota has revoked the licenses of two north metro child care centers for what investigators call repeated violations, but the owners vow to keep the doors open.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services revoked the license for the Little Me Child Care centers in Ramsey and Oak Grove citing dozens of violations, including falsifying records, failing to meet staffing and training requirements, and unsafe or unhealthy conditions.
The attorney for the owners of Little Me Child Care says they are appeal the decision and will stay open until they can make their case to a judge. However, in order to focus attention on the two centers, they will close a third location in St. Francis in just nine days.
In February, KARE 11 spoke to upset parents after staff members accidently left a toddler outside in the cold for 20 or 30 minutes at the Ramsey location.
Several parents, including Niki Olson, pulled their kids out of the daycare following the incident. She says they experienced many issues with proper feeding and sickness but haven't had the same struggles since moving to in-home care.
“My kids have not been sick once, which is unbelievable because Brody was sick every other week," Olson said. “And they definitely are not hungry anymore.”
Christa Groshek, attorney for the daycare owners, tells KARE11 that they plan to show how they have addressed the issues they were cited for.
“The reality for an administrator is it’s difficult to be there to oversee everything all the time and so you have to rely on your employees to do good jobs and sometimes they don’t,” Groshek said. “(The owners) were doing a great job, they believed their staff were doing a great job, and ultimately we know, of course, from what you’ve reported, they didn’t always, they didn’t always.”
In June, the state ordered the license at a third location, in St. Francis, be placed on conditional status. Last week the owners notified parents in St. Francis that they are closing in order to focus on improving their other two locations.
“It’s sickening,” said Sarah Struckman who had just enrolled her son in the daycare on Sept. 3. “The 6th (of September) was his first day and they gave me a notice that day saying they were closing.”
Struckman now has fewer than 10 days to find a new place to take her son. She says she will definitely not be taking him to one of the two troubled Little Me locations.
“That’s ridiculous. It’s just not right for them to do that to a child. That’s not even just hurting me, that’s hurting him," Struckman said. “We’re putting our children in your hands because we trust you and then to find out that we should have never trusted you in the first place is just… it makes me angry.”
According to the state’s website, the order for the Ramsey and Oak Grove locations was issued last week. Peggy Cunningham with the Office Inspector General wrote, “The license holder has demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to operate the program in compliance with licensing standards.”