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Call 6: State wants to stop felon from caring for children following baby's death

AG says 'Illegal' home operation must be closed
Posted: 6:16 PM, Mar 02, 2017
Updated: 2017-03-03 19:36:39Z

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Attorney General’s office has filed court documents to stop a suspected illegal home child care operation.

The AG’s office filed the complaint Wednesday in Marion County Superior Court following the death of 5-month-old Kyle Davis-Ferguson.

Baby Kyle stopped breathing on February 16 inside a suspected illegal child care home on Elmonte Court. He later died at a hospital.

The coroner has not yet released the cause of death. However, sources tell Call 6 Investigates Kyle was in an unsafe sleep environment on the bottom bunk of a bunk bed.

RELATED |  Police: 5-month old boy's death appears accidental  |  State orders child care to stop illegal operation after infant's death

State officials filed the court documents March 1, the same day baby Kyle was laid to rest.

Mischa Bennett, a convicted felon, was watching Kyle and about nine other children at her home on Elmonte Court on February 16, according to those court documents.

She does not have a license to operate a child care home, according to the state.

In Indiana, you need a license to operate a child care home if you care for six or more children who are not related to you.

Mischa Bennett is roommates with Ashley James, the president of Live Laugh Love and Learn Child registered child care ministry, according to the state.

Bennett had been unable to work at the day care on East 38th Street because of her criminal history of drugs, prostitution, and theft.

On January 23, 2016, Ashley James told the state Family and Social Services Administration that Bennett was no longer an employee at the ministry, records show.

Just over a year later, James is now accused of using Bennett to watch children in their home.

The Indiana Attorney General’s office has now filed legal paperwork to stop Bennett from caring for children, and to prevent James from operating an illegal child care out of the Elmonte Court home.

“Their continued operation will increase the likelihood of injury or death of an infant or child under their care as a result of noncompliance,” read the filed complaint. “Finally, the public interest will be served by protecting Indiana children from the continued violations of Indiana child care laws by (James and Bennett).”

The AG’s complaint does not ask the court to stop James from operating at her two other locations, East 38th Street and 7440 Michigan Road.

Call 6 Investigates Kara Kenney stopped by all three of the day care sites. The workers took pictures of Kenney, but no one would open the door for an interview.

Live Laugh Love and Learn Director Ashley James is still  facing criminal charges in connection with a separate child care incident .

James was charged with neglect resulting in bodily injury last year when prosecutors say an 11-year-old child intentionally hurt a 1-year-old while under her care. 

Lashawna Payne, the 1-year-old's mother, said day care workers initially tried to lie about her daughter’s injuries, so she demanded to see the video recording. 

On that video, Payne said she saw the boy repeatedly hitting, punching, scratching and tormenting her little girl.

FSSA decertified the 38th Street Live Laugh Love and Learn location from receiving CCDF federal vouchers on January 16, according to FSSA spokesperson Jim Gavin.

FSSA also issued a notice to the Michigan Road location, and that facility will not be able to accept CCDF federal vouchers starting on March 6.

During a February 7 inspection, state inspectors found students present at Live Laugh Love and Learn’s 38th Street who were registered with CCDF vouchers for the Michigan Road ministry location, which violates administrative regulations.

Both of James’ day cares were cited with violations in 2017 that include failing to maintain criminal history background checks and drug test results for employees and failing to provide parents with child discipline and safety policies.

Ashley James and Mischa Bennett have not been criminally charged in connection with baby Kyle’s death on February 16. 

A hearing date has not yet been set on the Attorney General’s complaint and request for an injunction.

RELATED | Call 6: Mother speaks out after toddler injured by older child while at day care