State Shuts Down Spokane Valley Daycare - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

State Shuts Down Spokane Valley Daycare For History Of Non-Compliance Issues

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - KHQ revealed the second local daycare to be shut down in two weeks. This week, the Department of Early Learning (DEL) revoked the license for Kids Are Us Child Care center on 2819 N. Argonne in Spokane Valley.
 
According to a nine-page report from the DEL, officials stated Berland did not meet the Department's licensing requirements as well as showed a long history of non-compliance.The report states Berland was "unwilling or unable to fully comply with what the department requires," for day cares. The documents also allege concerns about the daycare's ability to protect the health, safety and welfare of children under Berland's care.

Complaints against Kids Are Us date back to 2002 and include: hazards on the premises to children, lack of materials and activities for the kids, as well as multiple cases of inappropriate discipline including one case where staff member threw a child to the floor. The DEL found that those complaints were valid for discipline.
 
The DEL inspected Kids Are Us dozens of times over the years and inspectors found non-compliance issues on several inspections. In one inspection, on July 18, 2007, inspectors found that lead teachers did not have proof of state training in their files; one staff person did not have a cleared background check; staff did not have current food handler's cards; children's files were missing immunization and physical exam information; the Parent Handbook did not include a disaster plan; Sunscreen was not being documented after it was administered; soiled diapers in a classroom were not disposed of in a hands-free container; and quarterly disaster drills were not conducted and recorded.
 
The sudden closure left several families scrambling to find other child care arrangements including local mom Kasandra Sperl, who brought her three children to Kids Are Us. Sperl said her children loved Kids Are Us and said never had any indication that the day care was not following state requirements.
 
"You don't know what to think. Of course everything races through your mind of 'Ok' was there abuse going on or neglect?" Sperl said. "But my kids, even when they didn't have to go, they begged to go."

A letter sent to Kids Are Us on September 1st of 2010 advised Berland of these issues and allowed the daycare to stay open while Berland appealed the state's findings. Today, more than a year and three months later, their appeal was officially denied.
 
KHQ dug deeper to find out what requirements day care providers have to notify parents in case they are not in compliance. The answer is, there is none. Kara Klotz, a spokesperson for the Department of Early Learning, said "There is no requirement in state law or rules that licensed providers communicate a revocation letter to parents. We do maintain licensees' status on our website which shows when a licensee is in no referral status."

The state encourages parents to talk to their providers and use what's called Child Care Check, which updates parents on the status of daycares. You can find daycares here: https://apps.del.wa.gov/check/CheckSearch.aspx
KHQ left several messages for Berland but as of Friday night she had not returned calls.

This revocation case comes just weeks after state authorities closed the Little Lambs Learning Center LLC. on Northwest Boulevard in Spokane. The Department of Early Learning disqualified the director of that child care service, Lori Crull, from working at the daycare because of something they found in her background check as well as a spotty money trail. The state also said Crull did not use the proper care for kids, which was required.
 
On December 22, Lori Crull sent the following statement to KHQ:
 
"The State of Washington and the Department Of Early Learning came into my childcare center, Little Lambs Learning Center on Tuesday to shut it down by delivering a "Notice of Disqualification". This letter informed me of the revocation of my license and ability to operate a day care. I was completely devastated and in shock and disbelief. They have completely destroyed my life and all I have built for the last 20 years. I have done nothing by cry for the last 72 hours as the shock and disbelief has set in.

I was cooperative with State Agency, who was requesting information and records of me. I have cooperative, with everything they asked of me. I have not been formally charged with any crime, The State of Washington and the Department Of Early Learning are looking at my records to see if what they are implicating me of is factual. What I would like for the public to know is that I have done childcare for 20 plus years. My focus has always been on the kids, finding the best books, toys, activities for them to utilize and the best people to help me to care for them. I have promoted my facility as a Christian based facility that held the highest moral standards. I have invested great time,energy and money to get the best of Christian teaching resources for the children in their early formable years.

 I have always maintained records for the children to State standards as they existed at that time. Over a year ago, I have installed a computerized system that is designed for childcare centers to track attendance and other child care functions. I have hired qualified staff and delegated these duties for me because I engaged into childcare for my love of children not for the paperwork required of the State. The records were handled professionally and efficiently in an attempt to comply with the numerous State agency requirements imposed on a childcare facility.

A recent audit completed in September of 2011 indicated a possible overpayment of 47.50 and 27.00 respectively due to an accounting error, sent this to OFA Office Fair Hearing, to dispute those charges.  I have never intentionally misreported attendance in my facility to gain additional monies from the state. I am not aware of any mistakes in my reporting to the state and I am not a malicious person.
I am sorry for the inconvenience and confusion that the families, children and parents have been exposed to as a result of the way the State elected to terminate my license. There is other ways allot less disruptive they could have engaged in, but that is not the America we live in today.

I expect total vindication if given a fair opportunity and review of the complete records, not a redacted version."
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