FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
August 15, 2012
John Harrell, Northeast Region
(904) 723-5470/(904) 233-7792
Jacksonville Child Care Facility Shuts Down Following Reports That One Child Was Abused, Another Child Was Left In Hot Car
After DCF Sent Cease and Desist Order To Facility, Facility Agrees To Close
JACKSONVILLE - A local child care facility has agreed to shut down after DCF received a report that a four-year-old boy had been abused by an employee there. When DCF went to the facility to look into the allegations, a DCF investigator found a 2-year-old who had been left in the facility’s van for about 20 minutes. DCF also found that most of the employees at the facility had not had their backgrounds screened for any criminal or disqualifying offenses, as is required by state law.
“We take these allegations very seriously, and we are investigating them thoroughly,” said DCF Northeast Regional Director David Abramowitz. “We are working with law enforcement in our investigation. Child safety is the first priority of DCF.”
The facility, God’s Precious Little Miracles, is located at 1780 West 45th Street in Jacksonville. It has been operated by the Church of Miracles, Healing and Prophecy. State law allows child care facilities that are operated by churches to be “religious exempt,” meaning that they can choose not to be licensed or inspected by DCF. However, the facility must be accredited by a state- approved agency. Additionally, religious exempt facilities are required to have their employees complete background screening through DCF.
DCF’s Child Care Licensing program found that most of the people working at the facility had not had their names submitted to the Department for the required background screening. Under the law, the facility could no longer be considered an exempt facility. DCF treated the facility just like any other unlicensed facility, telling the operator that it needed to cease and desist operations. The facility agreed to close its doors.
DCF’s Child Protective Investigations team is probing the allegations of abuse. An employee at the facility had taken two four-year-old twins home with her to babysit them. After that, one of the children, a boy, was found to have several bruises. Both children were taken to the state’s Child Protection Team for examination. The child who had bruises was taken to a local hospital and is now at home.
The DCF investigator who then went to the facility saw a two-year-old girl who had been in a van owned by the facility for about 20 minutes.
The parents of both the four-year-old boy and the two-year-old girl have been contacted by DCF. The girl was taken to a local hospital for observation.