A Colorado daycare was shut down after authorities, responding to complaints that the daycare was overcrowded, discovered two adults and 26 kids under the age of 3 hiding in the basement during business hours.
Police allege that Play Mountain Place in Colorado Springs was only licensed to hold six children at the property, but the facility used a false wall to hide almost four times more children than allowed, People reports.
When police arrived at the daycare last week for the welfare check, they did not see any children, and Carla Faith, the owner of the facility who also lives on the property, did not cooperate with them. However, according to a police department release, the officers heard noises which led them to the “false wall.”
Upon finding the two adults and 26 kids, officers proceeded to work with the Department of Human Services to release the kids back to their parents. According to KKTV who obtained the police report, the owner was not arrested. Three adult workers were initially arrested for “misdemeanor child abuse relating to neglect.” However, the charges were eventually removed.
As KDVR reports, Colorado law requires daycares to have one adult for every five kids. But with 26 kids and only three adults at her facility, Faith was in clear violation. In addition, the daycare incident isn’t even the first to land the owner in hot water. KDVR also reported that in the ‘90s, Faith owned a daycare in California that was also shut down, allegedly due to overcrowding.
Reacting to the news, one parent told KKTV, “I just have this horrible feeling in my stomach, in the pit of my stomach. I’m really hoping nothing more nefarious has been going on and that in fact, it is an overcrowding issue which is bad enough as it is. I wouldn’t have brought him there knowing that.”
But an anonymous parent, who was one of the first on the scene to see the basement, was much less optimistic. She told KKTV her experience had always been dropping off and picking up her child “in a clean, pristine and loving environment,” but saw a stark contrast. She called the space “small” and “dingy,” and that the children were “crowded together amidst empty juice box containers, graham cracker crumbs and various children’s blankets and lovies.” The room reeked of “unchanged diapers” and that several kids were crying. “Everything was the exact antithesis of everything I had been led to believe my child was experiencing during the days they spent at Play Mountain. My immediate hope was that this was a one-time thing, but in the corner of the basement there were cubbies with children’s names on them holding diapers, including my own child’s, leading me to believe this is a place they had regularly spent time,” she said. “This was nothing at all like the level of care I had been led to believe my child was receiving, and the amount of deceit that took place to convince parents otherwise is completely mind-blowing. To say I am shocked, overwhelmed, and feeling utterly betrayed is an understatement as prior to yesterday I had nothing but rave reviews for this place and the caregivers.”
Another mom’s first hand account makes things even more disturbing. Besty Murphy, who has a 2-year-old son at the daycare told the Gazette she recently noticed a change in her son’s behavior. He often told his teachers he loved them before going home, but in the last week he started acting more clingy and cried on his way to daycare, KKTV reports. Her son’s words, according to the Gazette: “Don’t take me to the little house. Don’t take me downstairs.”