February 24, 1996 in Nation/World

State Shuts Down Day-Care Center License Of North Side Operation Suspended Pending Review

By The Spokesman-Review

Responding to a flurry of complaints, the state shut down a big day-care center in north Spokane - the first such closure in at least five years.

Personnel problems and other concerns at Kiddee Kollege Child Care, 919 W. Nora, prompted state officials to suspend the center’s license until the allegations are investigated.

“We could no longer ensure the safety and health of the children,” said Tim Nelson, director of the office of child-care policy for the State Department of Social and Health Services.

Nelson said the allegations are serious enough to warrant giving the Kiddee Kollege’s owners just one hour’s notice to shut down last week.

The center, a large white building with a fenced playground full of swings and toys, cared for about 30 children. It was licensed to handle up to 72 kids from the age of one month to seven years.

“There were personnel problems,” Nelson said. “The center director was no longer employed there. And as a result of that they weren’t meeting the license requirement of a center director.”

Nelson said if serious allegations are confirmed the state will revoke the center’s license and not allow it to reopen.

Efforts to reach day-care owners Darrell C. and Helen A. Nelson were unsuccessful.

But the Nelsons taped a letter to the entrance to their center indicating they expect the problems will be quickly resolved.

“The duration of the closure will be as short as possible and will probably be less than a week,” the letter told parents.

It also conceded some serious problems at the center, which the owners claimed were caused by an irresponsible director and program supervisor.

“The purpose of this letter is to assure you that Kiddee Kollege will never again be in the position of having unreliable persons in the care of your children,” they wrote.

The letter also claims that complaints about the center “were largely concealed from us.” The owners intend to hire and train new staff, their letter says.

Nelson said he didn’t know how long the investigation would take. “Investigations like this usually will take more than a week,” he said.

Nelson has closed several small, in-home family day-care operations in the past year, but said there is no record of any of the county’s bigger day-care centers being shut down since at least 1991.

, DataTimes

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