FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 7, 2000
FURTHER INFORMATION:
Patricia Harris-Morehead at
(615) 313-4707

DHS SUSPENDS LICENSE OF NASHVILLE CHILD CARE CENTER

NASHVILLE—The Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS) today suspended the license of a Nashville child care center for violating several state licensing rules. DHS took this action after concluding its licensing investigation regarding a 34-month-old child who was allegedly assaulted by a 13-year-old neighborhood teenager who entered the building without detection.

Officials at Vultee Christian Day Care Center, located at 895 Murfreesboro Road, were served the suspension order earlier today and must close immediately pending the outcome of a "show cause" or probable cause hearing that has been scheduled for next week.

The alleged incident occurred on May 24th, but was not reported to state officials or law enforcement until late last week. State child care rules and state law requires anyone who has knowledge of suspected child abuse to report it immediately to the state Department of Children’s Services (DCS) and/or local law enforcement.

The Department of Children’s Services investigation is continuing. (Contact DCS’ Ava Philson at 741-9192 for more information or local law enforcement.)

According to DHS, the other child care rules that were not followed include: supervision and grouping of children; responsibility for staff; cooperating with DCS or other officials during the course of a child abuse investigation; and the posting of emergency phone numbers next to the telephone for accessibility to all staff members.

Some of the numbers that should be posted include fire, police/sheriff, hospitals, child abuse hotline, poison control center, etc.

The state DHS is responsible for licensing family homes, group homes, and child care centers in Tennessee. DHS has the authority to suspend, revoke, or deny child care licenses for serious violations. Last October, the agency implemented a zero-tolerance policy after a series of careless incidents that jeopardized the health and safety of children continued to occur at a number of child care agencies.

"We are suspending this license under our zero tolerance policy due to the serious nature of the violations, " state Human Services Commissioner Natasha Metcalf said.

"Situations that jeopardize the health and safety of children in licensed child care facilities are thoroughly investigated, reviewed, and considered on a case-by-case basis before the zero tolerance policy is applied."

Once a license is suspended, the center must close immediately and remain closed pending a decision by an independent hearing officer at a "show-cause" or probable cause hearing that must be held within five days. (A hearing on the suspension has been scheduled for June 13 at 1 p.m. )

If the department’s decision is upheld on the suspension, the center must remain closed pending an appeal hearing on the license revocation by the Child Welfare Review Board, which is an independent panel of citizens.

If a department hearing officer reverses the suspension at the "show cause" hearing, the DHS still can proceed with revoking the license under its zero tolerance policy.

"We are deeply concerned about the health and safety of all children and will continue to use all available enforcement tools to ensure that children are safe while attending child care," Metcalf said

The Vultee child care center is licensed to care for up to 56 children. The center’s annual license was renewed last February. Parents who need assistance finding child care are urged to contact the DHS Child Care Resource and Referral Office at 313-4820, Monday – Friday, between 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Individuals also may report suspected licensing violations or complaints to this office at 313-4820 or to 1 800 462-8261 (outside Nashville area).

 

Editor’s Note: To request a copy of the more detailed summary suspension order, please call the DHS Communications Office at 313-4707.

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