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Brooklyn Center Day Care Shut Down By The State

BROOKLYN CENTER (WCCO) -- About 100 families in the Twin Cities are forced to find a new day care for their kids after theirs was forced to shut down Tuesday.

The Minnesota Department of Human Services issued the temporary immediate suspension order at Arena Early Learning Center in Brooklyn Center.

The State says it determined conditions in the facility posed "an imminent risk of harm to children," according to officials. Those officials won't say exactly what risks the State found.

"Where children are placed in imminent risk of harm we must, and will, act quickly to protect them," DHS Commissioner Lucinda Jesson said.

Now, parents have to make new plans for their children, including Johnatta Jefferson-Moore. Her two granddaughters go to the day care.

"The flag kept going up, going up, going up," she said. "It's been issues, and I've seen the high turnover in staff. That was my concern."

Her granddaughters recall eating leftovers.

"We have found, and then it's good food, and like next week, we have found that we had last week with all the food we had a long time ago," said Christyana.

The day care owner's wife said that an ex-employee is the one who came forward and brought up a number of issues to the state.

The day care had been operating the last couple years while appealing violations.

Owner Antonio Smith, who avoided WCCO several times at the day care, has until Monday to file an appeal with the state.

The State says documentation couldn't be provided that showed staff met education and experience requirements. One staff member took pictures of children and posted the pictures on their Facebook page without parental permission. Menus didn't comply with federal government nutritional requirements.
Staff served water with the meal, though milk must be served, according to guidelines.

The State says children were at risk indoors where wallpaper was peeling. Chipped and peeling paint in the playground was also a health-risk.

"I'm really upset. I'm really upset, because I have to work. I depend on having day care that's dependable," Johnatta said.

Johnatta will now rely on family to watch her grandchildren until she can find permanent day care.

The temporary immediate suspension of the license is the most serious licensing sanction the state can take against a day care.

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