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SHERIDAN — The Children’s Center in Sheridan was issued a notice of violation by the Department of Family Services in connection with an incident of mistreatment that occurred at the center last fall.
DFS Day Care Licensing Coordinator Rachel Huckfeldt confirmed a notice of violation of a rule prohibiting “rough handling of children including, but not limited to, hitting, spanking, beating, shaking, pinching, pushing or other measures that could produce physical pain,” was issued Jan. 3.
Huckfeldt also confirmed a notice of correction was given to the department Jan 15. Further details surrounding the investigation were not immediately available.
Children’s Center Director Peggy Stanton confirmed the violation was the result of an investigation into an incident that occurred in mid-November. Stanton also said the employee who committed the violation, Jan Lind, was terminated the next day.
The Children’s Center board of trustees has refused to comment on concerns raised by parents and a former employee of the center concerning treatment of the children and administrative mismanagement.
The board of trustees, chaired by Sheridan Attorney Bob Wyatt, did not publicly discuss the issuance of the new violation at their last regularly scheduled meeting Jan.27, though Stanton confirmed the board was aware it had been issued.
Huckfeldt also said she cannot share information on any possible open investigations, but several other parents have since come forward with complaints of mistreatment of children and abrupt discontinuance of services with no explanation.
The center’s new Infant Coordinator, Jo Madson, sent a letter home to parents in recent weeks in response to articles published in The Sheridan Press Dec. 18 and Jan. 28.
“If there is a situation that needs addressed or a complaint has been made, trust me, we have responded immediately,” the letter reads. “Our response may not seem immediate or obvious to everyone due to confidentiality.”
Madson, who claims 19 years of child care experience and began working at the Children’s Center Dec. 2, said she believes Stanton has the best interest of the center’s children in mind.
“As I supervise the infant staff, I am very much aware of the Children Center staff as well,” Madson said. “I visit their classrooms daily and view the activities from the cameras set up. The staff are great.”
Madson also said in the letter to parents that the job of child care provider is not suited for everyone, and not every child is suited to be in the large group environment of the center.
In addition to the recently issued violation, the facility has received four other DFS violations in the last two and a half years. Two of those violations were for failure to maintain adequate child-to-staff ratios, one was for not having a child restrained in a vehicle, and one was for improper use of chemicals that might have caused contamination of a play area or food preparation area.