Just days after reaching an agreement with the state, Kids Unlimited is well on the way to reopening.
The agreement requires the day care center to maintain a hefty list of records and policies for a state agency that is already stretched thin by having 52 specialists charged with inspecting 4,000 facilities statewide at least twice a year.
Kids Unlimited was closed June 20 by the state of Missouri, when its child care license was both suspended and revoked after a 23-month-old child was able to leave the facility unsupervised.
Last week, a settlement agreement was reached with the state, which will allow Kids Unlimited to reopen under an 18-month probation and with a number of restrictions, including having all employees reapply and interview for their positions except two who were named in the agreement as being the teachers involved in supervising the 23-month-old child.
Other restrictions include:
• Creating and implementing its own outdoor play policy with daily lock checks to be submitted to the Section for Child Care Regulation before reopening;
• Creating a written plan outlining how staff will be trained in all emergency procedures prior to being left alone with children;
• Requiring staff to do a head count every 30 minutes of the children in their care and log the count on a log sheet;
• Requiring staff to complete training approved by the Section for Child Care Regulation within 90 days;
• Requiring the child safety locks on playground gates to be changed to "fire code-compliant latches, possibly magna latch-style locks, or whatever latch/lock is recommended by the fire inspector."
According to state documents, the facility already has submitted an outdoor play policy and emergency procedure plan, per the agreement, and staff has begun to fill state training requirements. The outdoor play policy filed with the state specifies that the first teacher outside will check the gates and sign a gate check log. It also identifies staff placement in the playground area and includes the mandatory head count every 30 minutes.
Kids Unlimited was issued its probationary certificate of license Wednesday, the same day the settlement agreement was signed.
The child care facility has been licensed since April 1, 2012. Since then, the facility has had at least nine inspections for sanitation, fire and compliance.
Missouri child care facilities are required to be inspected at least twice each year by the Section for Child Care Regulation. Annual fire and sanitation inspections also are required.
Ryan Hobart, with the office of public information in the Department of Health and Senior Services, said there are 52 child care facility specialists who "inspect and investigate approximately 4,000 licensed and registered facilities." The specialists are split between seven different regional offices throughout the state.
In July 2012, Kids Unlimited was found non-compliant in several areas, including the caregiver to child ratios for infants, toddlers and 2-year-olds, and an issue with a section of the playground fence. The inspector noted a section of the fence in the preschool playground measured 27 inches, when the requirement is 42 inches. Also noted was that "the fence has been pulled down and collapsed."
An unannounced re-inspection in November 2012 listed the same areas as being non-compliant, with the inspector noting again that the fence had been pulled down and collapsed.
The News Tribune could not find a record in the Kids Unlimited file of the issues being resolved, though an announced inspection did take place Jan. 8. The child care facility received a letter Feb. 13 providing a certificate of license.
Immediately following that letter in the Kids Unlimited file was an undated page stating: "Due to caseload vacancies, a compliance monitoring inspection was not completed as required."
The facility also was found non-compliant in the July 2012 and November 2012 inspections on maintaining accurate records. The inspector noted missing information on child enrollment forms, medical form and immunization records.
An immunization validation visit in April found six out of 30 children were non-compliant with immunization records.
Jamie King, the director and owner of the facility, has not returned messages left throughout the past month. Julie Baker, also listed as an owner, did not return a message left Friday.