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"Despite knowing that a license was required to operate a child care service of this size, the Richards violated the law and provided unverifiable information to our licensing staff regarding the nature of the relationships between them and the children in their care," said DCFS Secretary Ruth Johnson.
DCFS is the state agency charged with licensing child care facilities in the state and monitoring and enforcing the provisions of the Child Care Facilities and Child Placing Agencies Licensing Act and all published rules governing child care. DCFS also registers Family Child Day Care Homes for which licenses are not required as long as care is being provided for no more than six unrelated children. Anytime care is provided for more than six unrelated children, Louisiana law requires that the facility apply for a license.
On February 8, 2012, DCFS licensing specialists, acting on a complaint, visited a residence located at 2222 Elder Street in Lake Charles where Rose Richard indicated that she operates a child day care between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday for as many as 22 children at any given time. On this first visit, specialists observed seven children in the home, three of whom Mrs. Richard indicated were visiting.
A follow-up visit on February 9 found 12 children present in the home. Mrs. Richard indicated that five of the 12 were her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She indicated that the remaining seven where unrelated and that three of the seven were only visiting.
DCFS staff made a third verification visit on the morning of February 10 and observed five children in the Richard's home. A follow-up visit at 3 p.m. on the same day found ten children in the home. Mrs. Richard indicated that seven of the ten children were not related to her.
Due to the discrepancies in the information provided by Mrs. Richard and the inability of licensing staff to determine which of the children in her care are Mrs. Richard's grandchildren and great-grandchildren, DCFS filed a preliminary injunction on February 10 asking for statutory fines provided under the law and proof that shows the familial relationship between the children and the Richards. DCFS is still awaiting action from Judge Wilford Carter in this case.
"The law is clear where licensing of child care centers is concerned. These laws were enacted in the best interest of children to ensure their safety, and it is the responsibility of DCFS to ensure that the law is consistently applied and observed," said Johnson.
The case in Lake Charles comes on the heels of a similar incident in the New Orleans area where DCFS found a mother and daughter operating an illegal daycare for 40 children in a small residence with insufficient space, unsafe sleeping arrangements and inadequate supervision. In that case, a judge agreed with DCFS and ruled that Annette Osborne Willis and Latasha Poole were operating illegally. The judge ordered that they stop operating illegally, as well as pay a $1,250 fine.
For more information about child care licensing and a listing of Louisiana's licensed child care facilities and inspection reports, visit www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/ChildCareFacilities.
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