Children found drooling, unresponsive at shuttered day care

INDIANAPOLIS - Unlicensed day care operator Stephanie Gribble is facing neglect charges after four children were admitted to a local hospital for overdosing on a combination of prescription and over-the-counter medications, police said.

On February 12, four children arrived at the emergency room displaying symptoms of something called an “acute dystonic reaction,” including lethargy, difficulty walking, unresponsiveness, drooling, tongue hanging out and staring into space, Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney reported.

The children were an 11-month-old, 2-year-old and two 5-year-olds, according to the police report.

“Based on the medical evidence, statements made, and items seized during the execution of a search warrant, investigators believe the children were given some combination of over-the-counter and prescription medication at the daycare on February 12, 2014,” Indianapolis Metro Police said in an email to RTV6.

Gribble was arrested February 14 on four counts of Neglect of a Dependent.

“That’s kind of creepy,” said neighbor Chris Weaver. “My wife has children and the sign made me think, ‘I wonder if that day care is cool,’ and that’s kind of scary actually.”

Gribble’s day care is located at 9417 Gemini Drive and a sign sits out front that says “ABC Child Care.”

“They only recently moved in,” said Weaver.

The day care is unlicensed, and it’s unclear how many children were attending the facility.

Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney had been looking into Stephanie Gribble, formerly Stephanie Smith, for several weeks and learned Gribble has a history with the Family and Social Services Administration dating back to 2008.

In November 2012, the Attorney General’s Office obtained an injunction for a then-named Stephanie Smith to stop her from operating an illegal day care at 11328 Stoeppelwerth Drive in Indianapolis.

On Friday, a spokesman for the Attorney General's Office said it would work with the Family and Social Services Administration to investigate the new charges.

"Mindful of the presumption of innocence, we can’t comment on the criminal charges against this defendant," said Public Information Officer Bryan Corbin. " It is disturbing whenever children are endangered and must be hospitalized, and disheartening whenever individuals fail to comply with court orders applying the law and intended to protect children. "

Marni Lemons, a spokesperson for the Family and Social Services Administration, told Kenney on January 29 the agency followed up and Smith appeared to have moved out of the residence.

Kenney followed up with Lemons Friday to see if FSSA would comment on Gribble’s arrest, given her history with the state.

“FSSA is a licensing authority, and Stephanie Gribble is not a licensed day care operator,” said Lemons in an email to Kenney. “FSSA will be issuing an order to cease and desist from operating a child care illegally at the address where the incident occurred. “

When an illegal day care is issued a cease-and-desist letter, it is warned the attorney general may seek a civil penalty of $100 a day for each day of operating without a license.

The state is still attempting to collect $3,300 in civil penalties from Gribble/Smith.

“It is important that parents understand the licensing process and that they be vigilant about ensuring that their children are being cared for by licensed providers that are operating legally,” said Lemons. “For example, child care providers operating out of a home must be licensed if they care for more than five unrelated children. FSSA provides information on licensed and registered providers at www.childcarefinder.in.gov.”

In the coming days, IMPD will present information learned through the investigation to the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office for a determination of charges.

Kenney reached out to Gribble for comment, but she is still behind bars at the Marion County jail.

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