Parents became suspicious on Thursday August 30 2007 of the situation within a day care in a home on 61 Frank St, Stamford CT. Police rushed to the scene at approximately 3:30 pm, after the state Department of Children and Families called them.
Police state that when they arrived there, they found DCF workers and officials from the state Department of Public Health outside the home day care owned by Collette Barnes. Barnes's 14 year-old daughter had been refusing to allow the health officials into the home, prompting them to call police. The officials and police could see several children sleeping on cots through the windows and after 15 minutes of knocking, the teen finally opened the door.
What officials found inside the day care forced them to condemn the home. There were numerous hazardous conditions including a bathtub on the second floor that was leaking through the ceiling and into a large bottle on the first floor. There were exposed nails along a staircase and at least two phone cords dangling within the reach of children, one which ran alongside a crib.
Police state that they also found two electrical sockets sticking out from the wall, exposing circuits and wires, the sink full of dirty dishes, an open can of pet food near the children and garbage overflowing the trash containers.
All of this has happened before, we read the stories from time to time in the papers. What Barnes did though is almost unbelievable......... officials found that she had been gone from the home since Monday, August 27, apparently to go to Florida. She had not notified the children's parents of this and it seems, she thought that her 14 year-old and 17 year-old daughters could run the house and day care for the time she was out of state.
Officials called the parents of the seven children being cared for, a 3 month-old baby, a 9 year-old, a 7 year-old and four 2 year-olds and they were returned to the parents uninjured. Barnes's two daughters, the 14 year-old and the 17 year-old who arrived back at the house later, have been placed with relatives.
Barnes, who got her day care license in February, will likely be charged when she returns from Florida. She could face penalties up to the loss of her license and she already will have to face a hearing in front of the state health officials on September 14 2007.
It would seem that there are several issues that have to be addressed by Barnes when she returns from her trip to Florida. It had not been reported as to what type of day care she was providing but seems to be several problems. If she had been licensed for a "family day care," she would have been limited by CT law to having only 6 children in her care. A "group day care home" would allow a larger number of children to be there.
Barnes also would be restricted to having no more than two children under the age of two in her care unless she had an assistant present. An assistant is decribed as an adult, over the age of 18, who has been approved in writing by the Commissioner and can then assist while the provider or substitute provider is present. She is allowed to have a substitute or emergency caregiver take over for her but they must be an adult and have met the state mandated requirements for that position.
I have to wonder, who were the parents who alerted the authorities? If it were the parents of the children left there for care......... why did it take until Thursday for them to think there may have been a problem? Worse, if it wasn't even those parents who alerted the authorities, why did it not dawn on them to look at the situation their children were left in?
Lastly, Barnes left her own two children to go to Florida and somehow thought not only that was alright but leaving them to care for 7 other children on a daily basis was ok as well. I find it difficult to believe that she wouldn't face something much more than possibly losing her day care license. Maybe the state should begin with "corner time" to allow her to see exactly how dumb her decision was and work up from there.