Baton Rouge: The Louisiana Department of Education on Wednesday revoked the license of an early learning center in Caddo Parish and terminated its public funding. The center failed to take steps to ensure the health and safety and well-being of children, despite corrective attempts made by the Department, and a recent inspection resulted in violations that exposed children to violence and potential physical harm.
"The Department holds its child care centers to a high set of standards to operate and works closely with providers to ensure they fully understand the requirements and supports available to them," said State Superintendent of Education John White. "However, in cases like this, when those standards are repeatedly violated, or if the health and well-being of our children is seriously compromised, the Department must take corrective action in order to keep our kids safe."
The Department inspected the Jordan and Friends Enrichment Center, at 2930 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive in Shreveport, twice in January after receiving complaints in late December and again in early January. The first complaint stated two staff members were involved in a physical fight in a classroom while 19 children, between the ages of 6 and 11, were present. Weeks later, the Department received two additional complaints. One stated that, again, two staff members got into an argument with children nearby, and the other stated that the center's staff, while on a field trip, did not feed the 13 children participating, nor did they provide food for the children who remained at the center. Following the inspections, licensing staff cited the center with 10 deficiencies, including failure to report a critical incident.
In fact, the center has been cited for more than 70 deficiencies combined on its past seven inspections, including multiple citations for daily attendance records for children, staff and owners; eating practices; items that can be harmful to children; and behavior management policies, among others. Most concerning, the center has been cited for having child-to-staff ratios that far exceed state requirements, including having as many as 17 children, ages 3 to 12, observed by one staff member, and for failure to supervise young children. On several instances, a specialist observed staff members leaving young children and infants unattended or in the care of a 6-year-old child. The Department gave the center several opportunities to clear its deficiencies by issuing corrective action plans and providing extensive technical assistance. The center, however, did not comply.
This center is now ineligible for public funding through the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), which helps make child care more affordable for low-income families. The Department has alerted families affected by this action and is working closely with them to identify safe, quality alternative options.
Jordan and Friends Enrichment Center has 15 calendar days from receipt of the notice of revocation to appeal the Department's decision. Providers who have had their licenses revoked are ineligible to apply for licensure for two years. Operating a child care center without a license may result in an order to cease and desist, as well as an injunction from a court prohibiting the continued operation of a child care center without a license and placement on the statewide registry of individuals prohibited from operating a child care center.