The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) has moved to shut down a Minneapolis child care center under investigation by state and federal authorities for possible financial fraud.

Citing numerous safety violations, DHS issued an order Thursday revoking the license of Salama Child Care Center just a day after FBI and DHS officials searched the facility near downtown Minneapolis at 1411 Nicollet Av. S. On Wednesday morning, parents and children were turned away for a time as investigators hauled away computers, boxes and folders full of documents from the center.

Federal and state authorities have declined to comment on the nature of the investigation, though the child care center has a history of regulatory run-ins with the state. Nationwide, federal and state authorities have been cracking down on child care agencies for billing public programs for services not rendered.

In its license revocation order, DHS cited the center for exceeding its licensed capacity by having too many children in its facility; operating with inadequate staff-to-child ratios; failing to document that staff members had completed required training on preventing sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS); lacking adequate space and supervision, and exposing children to hazards, including electrical outlets that were not shielded. The center’s classrooms also lacked basic learning supplies, such as small blocks and musical instruments for preschool children, DHS investigators found.

All told, the Salama Child Care Center was hit with 23 violations of state rules, including 13 repeat violations, following a licensing review and complaint investigation conducted in February and March.

The Salama Child Care Center in St. Cloud, an affiliate of the Minneapolis center, had its license revoked in 2013 for “serious and chronic violations of licensing standards,” including substantiated neglect of a child, according to DHS.

A 4-year-old child had wandered from the facility to the parking lot of a nearby dry cleaner, where a customer almost hit the child with a car. Staff members thought the toddler was sleeping and did not realize the child was missing for one and a half hours, according to state records.

For the Minneapolis center, the state’s license revocation goes into effect May 29, though the center may appeal the order and continue operating until the appeals process concludes. Telephone calls to the center were not returned Friday.

 

Twitter: @chrisserres