January 16, 2010 in City

Child care center’s license suspended

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A large Spokane child care center with a history of problems has been shut down by the state.

The Academy of Little Bears closed this week after the state Department of Early Learning suspended its license based on complaints of unreported abuse.

“We’ve been working with the center for a number of years,” said Amy Blondin, department spokeswoman. “We just reached the conclusion this week that it simply isn’t a place that can be safe and healthy for kids.”

Lori Sayman, owner of Little Bears, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

The child care center, located at 1104 W. Heroy Ave. in north Spokane, logged 27 valid complaints between August 2005 and September 2009, according to the department.

The center had appealed a license revocation from October and was operating pending a hearing in March, but new complaints prompted the state to close the center immediately. The center has about a month to contest the suspension and request a hearing.

Little Bears was licensed to care for 201 children ages 12 months to 12 years old. It provided preschool, day care and after-school care and had been licensed since 1994.

The newest complaints were filed this month and in December according to a letter sent Jan. 13 to Sayman.

On Dec. 23, a 2-year-old girl with bruises on her face told employees “mom did it,” according to the letter.

But the employees didn’t immediately report the abuse as required by state law, nor did they report allegations of sexual activity between children, according to the department.

The department received a complaint about the alleged sexual activity on Sunday.

“A four-year-old child disclosed significant sexual activity between other children at the child care facility,” according to the letter. “The child also indicated that your center staff were aware of the sexual activity and this occurred on more than one occasion.”

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