Some NC day cares remain open despite being shut down by state, data shows

Investigators

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A CBS 17 investigation discovered some North Carolina day cares still opened for business despite being shut down by the state.

Finding a good day care can be a difficult task for many parents. 

Erica Carreno knows first hand how hard it can be to find good childcare.

Erica Carreno and her daughter

“It was stressful, you know your child’s not here yet and you’re already looking to kind of give them away, so to speak,” said Carreno.

She works full time and relies on day care for her 3-year-old daughter.

“If it wasn’t for day care, I don’t know if we would be able to go back to work. and that’s who I was before – you know I was a working woman,” said Carreno.

The mother of one said she did a lot of research online before finding the right facility for her family.

The Division of Child Development and Early Education lists all licensed day cares online. 

The list includes the state’s ratings, any compliance issues and any actions taken against a facility.

But what’s not on the site is what our CBS 17 investigative team uncovered.

The list of facilities shut down each year and why.

Through a public records request, CBS 17’s Felicia Bolton discovered the state ordered 25 day cares to shut down for poor and unsafe practices during the 2017-18 fiscal year.

The following fiscal year, DCDEE shut down at least eight more day cares.

After receiving the data, the CBS 17 Investigative team took it one step further.

CBS 17 visited the day cares on the list.

CB 17 found Umoja Day Care and Learning Center in Durham still open for business.

An employee told CBS 17 the state’s data is wrong.

CBS 17 went back to the state, a spokesperson with the Department of Health and Human Services sent an email reading in part:

“DCDEE issued an administrative action to Umoja Day Care and Learning Center, inc. revoking its license to operate Umoja Day Care & Learning Center on March 15, 2018. The administrative action was appealed a final decision affirming DCDEE’s action to revoke was filed at the office of administrative hearings on October 16, 2018 and the license was terminated on December 12, 2018.”

CBS 17 also discovered Faith Academy in Durham is still operating. A man there claimed the state’s data was not correct. 

Again CBS 16 went to DHHS to confirm the information.

A spokesperson emailed the following:

 “DCDEE issued an administrative action to Shakeema Priester revoking her license to operate faith academy on august 14, 2018.  the administrative action was appealed, but the appeal was withdrawn on February 15, 2019. the license was terminated on February 19, 2019.”

Both facilities are run out of homes.

According to state law, a family childcare home must be licensed when there are more than two children who are not related being cared for at the location.

CBS 17 called both facilities several times for more clarification on how many children they have in their care, so far those calls have not been returned.

Christy Thalheimer with Child Care Services Association said her group works to ensure affordable and quality child care for all families through research and advocacy.

“They really focus on evidence-based criteria and quality indicators such as staff-to-child ratio, the education of the teacher, the star rating of the childcare program through the state licensing system could be a really good quality indicator,” said  Senior Childcare Resource and Referral Manager Christy Thalheimer.

She said another red flag to look out for is the class size.  

“When you go on a tour and you’re talking to your teacher and director, do your counts for the number of children in the classroom with the number of teachers that are available. If there’s too many children with that adult that could be a red flag,” said Thalheimer. 

She said another potential warning sign is a constant change of ownership or high teacher turn over.

Thalheimer strongly recommended parents should go in person and do as much research as possible before dropping a child off at day care. Because those extra steps can help ensure the child is in safe hands.

As for the two day cares CBS 17 found still operating, a DHHS spokesperson said anyone can file a complaint about a facility or a childcare provider he or she believes is providing services without the appropriate license.

For a closer look at all the day cares that have been shut down in our state over the past two years, click here.

To research the state’s data on any North Carolina day care, click here.

For more stories like this that matter to you, click here to download the CBS 17 News app for free.

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