Embattled day care owner closes doors on facility

Crawfordsville facility temporarily closed

CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ind. - An embattled day care owner is facing more trouble once again, Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney has learned.

Smiley’s Early Learning Center, formerly known as Kid Co., has closed the doors of its Crawfordsville facility.

Melanie Brizzi, administrator for the Bureau of Child Care for the Family and Social Services Administration, told Kenney the center is closing temporarily until they get a director.

"We did not take any negative action on the Smiley locations," Brizzi said in an email. "We have not closed out their license."

The closure is concerning to parents and employees, who contacted Kenney but wanted to remain anonymous.

Owner Sherita Newbern did not respond to Kenney’s requests for comment.

Kenney reported earlier this year Newbern was issued a 13-page plan of correction for her center in Greenwood, after a day care bus with children on board crashed into a parked car while in the provider’s parking lot.

State inspectors found missing chauffeur’s driver’s licenses, and staff missing other paperwork such as CPR, national criminal history check, drug test and first aid.

FSSA also found the registration tags of at least one bus had plates that expired in February 2013, and all three buses were missing blankets and all fire extinguishers were expired.

The Greenwood Smiley’s Early Learning Center is now on a probationary license.

As the Call 6 Investigators have reported, Kid Co. changed owners shortly after a judge ordered its license to be revoked.

The Greenwood Kid Co. facility was previously owned by Prashith Srivastava.

In an 11-page decision, an administrative law judge highlighted concern after concern, including that the center used cruel, harsh or unusual discipline on five occasions.

The decision also found Kid Co. did not supervise children on three occasions.

"Although the Center has corrected or attempted to correct several areas of noncompliance, including terminating staff and conducting in-service training, the Center was repeatedly out of compliance with Indiana's child care center rules," read the decision.

The document said Kid Co. failed to notify Child Protective Services of a rash and redness on a child's "private area."

"The Center disputes that this incident was a reportable event," read the decision. "The Director of the Center was not aware of the one-hour time limit to report suspected instances of child abuse or neglect."

The judge listed several examples of workers violating the no-touch policy.

"A bus driver employed by the Center smacked down the hands of two boys who were arguing on the bus," read the decision. "Due to the Center's no touch policy, the bus driver was terminated from his position."

The judge also took issue with cruel verbal language used with children, including an incident when a teacher was trying to get a child to take a nap.

"The child head-butted the teacher. The teacher let go of the child, who slipped to the floor and she yelled, 'get this child away from me or I am going to kill him,'" read the document. "The teacher was terminated and staff were in-serviced regarding proper procedures for handling of children and talking to children."

According to records obtained by the Call 6 Investigators, FSSA first took action to revoke Kid Co.'s license in June 2012 after concerns arose during an annual inspection visit.

FSSA records from June 2012 commented on the handling of child abuse and neglect allegations, saying, "The center failed to report two separate incidents to CPS immediately."

According to Carefinder, previous FSSA inspections also cited the day care for not giving a toddler's injury report to a parent, dirty floors and vents, unsafe sleep practices, unlabeled infant bottles and missing documentation for some staff members.

FSSA records show a January 2013 video revealed a teacher dragging a child by both of his legs from the hallway into a room at least three times.

To read inspection reports on a day care or check its license status, go to the FSSA Carefinder website.

Follow Kara Kenney on Twitter: @karakenney6 | Facebook: KaraKenneyNews

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