A Center Grove area day care that the state tried to shut down got a fresh start when a new owner took over last year, but inspectors are continuing to find similar problems.
Inspectors have cited Smiley’s Early Learning Center, formerly Kid Co., for 48 violations since the beginning of this year. The day care at 2503 Fairview Place has been put on probation by the state until July and been asked to fix problems or deficiencies, including training staff in CPR, first aid and child abuse reporting, and having proper equipment, insurance documents and registrations on day care buses.
The state attempted to close the day care when it was run by the previous owners after the state found repeated violations for staff using physical discipline, failing to properly supervise children and not having proper drug and medical tests and training for staff members.
Kid Co.’s owner sold the business to Sherita Newbern of Smiley’s in December as the state was in the midst of revoking the day care’s license.
Since Smiley’s was an applicant for a new license with the state, the previous issues with Kid Co. did not carry over to the new ownership, Indiana Family and Social Services Administration spokeswoman Marni Lemons said. But the state continues to find similar violations that existed under Kid Co.’s ownership as well as new issues.
Smiley’s Center Grove area location was put on probation on Jan. 15 after the state investigated an accident involving a day care bus.
During the incident, the inspector found multiple violations according to inspection records:
Students hadn’t been wearing seat belts.
Fire extinguishers on the buses were expired.
The day care did not have a vehicle registration or proof of insurance on the bus.
The day care and state agreed on a plan to correct the issues before the end of the six-month probation period, Lemons said. During the probation period, the day care is being inspected at least once per month. At the end of the term in July, Smiley’s can be taken off probation if staff have corrected all the issues in the plan or can be put on a second six-month probation if they are making progress but need more time, Lemons said.
If the day care fails to make progress or continues to have multiple or serious violations, the state could revoke the day care’s license and attempt to shut it down as it had done with Kid Co., Lemons said.
The other Smiley’s location on Lovers Lane in Franklin, which was also formerly run by Kid Co., is not on probation or facing any disciplinary action with the state, according to state records.
Newbern did not return phone calls made Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Sixteen of the day care’s 48 violations occurred Jan. 15 during the inspection after the bus accident.
During that inspection, Smiley’s could not provide insurance information for its buses and a bus serving the Greenwood area had an expired registration. The fire extinguishers on the buses were expired, and the buses did not have blankets on board, which is required by state codes, according to inspection records.
Day care bus drivers also were missing required training and certifications including CPR, first-aid and child abuse reporting certifications, chauffeur’s licenses, tuberculosis and drug tests and national criminal background checks.
The state put Smiley’s on probation immediately although the day care was later able to provide up-to-date insurance and registrations for its buses, Lemons said. Parents were notified by letter when the day care was put on probation.
During the first monthly inspection on Feb. 19, the inspector cited Smiley’s for 25 violations of state code, ranging from staff not having proper certifications, staff using space heaters to heat the building and areas on the floor that had not been properly cleaned. The
inspector also noted two repeat
violations including staff holding infants without putting a towel or cloth over their shoulder and the center not having parent-approved transportation agreements, state records show.
The state will continue to inspect the center during the probation then will make a decision about what action to take on its license, Lemons said. If frequent and repeat violations continue, the state could revoke the center’s license similar to what happened with Kid Co., she said.
The state revoked Kid Co.’s license in February 2013, which launched a legal case spanning several months during which the center was allowed to remain open. The center continued to have multiple violations each month, racking up more than 50 citations last year prior to a hearing before an administrative judge in November.
After that hearing, the judge determined the state was reasonable in revoking the center’s license because Kid Co. had shown a pattern of repeated violations. Kid Co. appealed after the business had been sold to Newbern and the decision was upheld on a second review, Lemons said.