The state has ordered a Center Grove area day care and preschool to shut down after inspectors determined the facility violated state rules.
The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration issued a notice terminating the child care ministry registration for Little Angels Daycare and Preschool, located at White River Baptist Church. The notice is dated Jan. 31 and states the registration was being terminated immediately.
An inspector visited the day care Jan. 30 and determined that a man affiliated with the church was at the site after having been accused of inappropriately touching a child at the day care in 2012. The state previously told Little Angels that the man was not allowed at the church while children were at the day care, said Marni Lemons, deputy director of communications with Indiana Family and Social Services.
The man was never arrested by police or charged with a crime. But an investigation by the Indiana Department of Child Services found enough evidence to require he be barred from the day care, Lemons said.
The day care can remain open until Wednesday to allow parents to make other arrangements, but the facility could face civil charges and fines if it remains open past that deadline. The day care and preschool, at 1222 Demaree Road, has been registered with the state since 2006 and provides care for about 130 children, Lemons said. The day care is run as part of White River Baptist Church.
Ministry-based child care programs are not licensed like business or home day cares but still must register with the state and meet basic requirements like fire safety, immunization and staff background checks in order to stay open, according to Indiana law.
White River Baptist Church Pastor Steve Finke and Little Angels Daycare and Preschool director Amy Chilton did not return calls Thursday.
Greenwood police investigated a report on March 26 from the Marion County branch of Department of Child Services that a man had inappropriately touched a child, who was 5 or 6 years old, at the day care, assistant chief Matt Fillenwarth said. The man was affiliated with the church, Fillenwarth said.
Police investigated the claim but were not able to gather enough information to meet the burden of proof to make an arrest or seek criminal charges, Fillenwarth said.
The Indiana Department of Child Services also investigated the incident and found enough information to forward it to the state child care bureau, Lemons said. At that time, the state agency issued a notice to the day care to keep the man off the property.
“We informed them. They informed us that they would make arrangements that this person would not be on the grounds any time the day care was open,” Lemons said.
The amount of information needed to substantiate a claim with the department of child services is different from what is needed by police in a criminal investigation, Indiana Department of Child Services spokeswoman Stephanie McFarland said.
On Jan. 23, Greenwood police received a report from a parent who said her 6-year-old son was left unattended on a day care bus for more than an hour.
Police determined the child fell asleep on the bus and was discovered when his father arrived to pick him up, according to a police report.
No charges were filed from the incident, but police forwarded the information to the state, Fillenwarth said.
On Jan. 30, an inspector from the state family and social services administration visited the day care and found that the man involved in the 2012 investigation was still at the site, violating the agency’s previous order and leading to the termination of the day care’s registration.
Greenwood police recently reopened the investigation from March after new allegations were reported to the police department, Fillenwarth said. He declined to discuss details of the case because the investigation is ongoing.
“The original case is opened back up against this individual because we have gotten some other reports from some other people,” Fillenwarth said.
If the day care were to operate without a valid license, the Johnson County prosecutor, Office of Family Resources or Indiana Attorney General’s Office could file a lawsuit with a possible fine of $100 per day of operation, the notice says.
The day care could seek to reopen but would have to reapply for a license with the state, Lemons said. She declined to comment on what might need to be done in order for the state to re-register the program after having its registration was revoked.