State regulators have revoked the licenses of two Little Me child care centers in Anoka County, citing ongoing staffing and safety problems that jeopardized children and weren't reported in a timely manner.
Poor supervision was cited at the Little Me location in Oak Grove, where a toddler unscrewed and swallowed a screw during a nap period in 2013 and a child went into a kitchen unattended in 2014 and dropped a glass pickle jar. The latter incident, which resulted in a doctor removing glass from the child's foot, wasn't reported to the state, as required, until 2016.
Lax supervision also was noted at the Ramsey child care center, where a child was left gloveless and unattended on the playground for more than 20 minutes in freezing weather this January. Authorities also cited the center for failing to comply with staff training and background-check requirements, and for failing to maintain a clean environment and operate within capacity limits.
"The child care center has only been licensed since April 2013," the revocation ordered stated. "However, [in] that short time the license holder has demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to operate the program in compliance with licensing standards."
The centers are appealing the revocations, meaning they will remain open until a judge decides whether to uphold the state's decisions. Attorney Christa Groshek said on Tuesday that the owners are trying to improve care by replacing staff and providing more on-site supervision.
A third Little Me center in St. Francis remains open under a conditional licensing order, as state documents indicate that inspectors found instances where there were too many children per teacher and where safe sleep practices weren't followed for infants.
The state requires background studies on child care workers to prevent adults with histories of abuse or maltreatment from working with children. Failures to comply with background study requirements were found at all three centers.
The state Department of Human Services has issued seven revocation orders against child care centers so far this year; two have appealed and remain open.