Dear Free-Range Kids: I decided the instant I first held my daughter to buy a house perfect for a day care. I renovated it and opened one..My daughter is now 9. The week before school started again this year, when summer camps were over, many of my former daycare kids (now school-age) and some of my daughter’s classmates and siblings were in need of me. I had a few of my currently enrolled kids as well (only one was under the age of 2, and he is 18 months).Total number: 13. Legal limit in Maryland: 8..The state showed up on for an unannounced inspection…at 12:00 noon. Lunch time..The resulting inspection report listed 18 violations: over the limit of kids; no formal emergency card filled out for the temporary ones ( I use my caller ID); putting my cat outside without washing my hands; HAVING a cat in the house; letting the kids in my back yard without shoes (summer!); feeding them PB&J (not my original lunch, but the presence of the inspector breathing down my neck made the home cooked meal impossible); having food, dishes and utensils all over the counter (duh!); kids not washing their hands before eating (it all went downhill so quickly once the inspector showed up); having toys all over the floor (trip hazard); kids in rooms where I couldn’t actually see them (only hear them); kids outside (can see and hear through my open kitchen window as I fix lunch); having an adult helping me who was not approved by the state (a retired clinical social worker neighbor); letting the kids play on their sleeping mats and blankets (for jumping and fort building). Another issue: When the state said I had to send kids home immediately, I let two kids go home with extremely close family friends of theirs (I had only verbal approval). Plus: not having a baby gate on my stairs; an electrical outlet without a cap; and two kids in their diaper and shirt (it was in the 90′s that day); and I think having one of those exercise trampolines for their use (in the middle of a carpeted and padded floor) was the last one..This is an in-home daycare where only like-minded parents and close community friends attend. The policies and procedures are well documented, explained, disclosed beforehand and agreed upon. No unknown drop-ins. Ever. My license was suspended for 45 days because the violations demanded an “eminent emergency closing” to protect ”the health, safety and welfare of the community,” which meant that now parents had to stay home from work with their kids until school started..Maybe you agree with the state. I don’t know. But it seems that the parents should be able to have the right to choose where they want their kids to spend their days, and, with full disclosure, of course, have the right to opt out from state regulations...Kristin Kasprzak, in Maryland
I wrote back to Kristin that I was more than interested, I was dismayed. If we all had to abide by those regulations (no utensils on the counter! No kids in rooms where we couldn’t see them at all times), none of us could possibly raise a family, let alone make dinner! And I was disgusted by what appeared to be a HUNT for reasons to shut down a decent, caring place that pitched in to help families in need. That’s called being neighborly, not being negligent.
Then I got this follow-up letter from Kristin:
Three days before the 45th day of my suspension was to be lifted, the woman in charge sent me a hand-signed, hand-addressed letter informing me of the new inspector assigned to my daycare. Sounded like I was to get my license back at the end of the 45 days, and I could expect a visit from this new inspector, right?.WRONG. Three days later, on the 45th day, the woman in charge REVOKED my license…having made no calls or inspections to back up her fears from the list of violations from the only inspection I have EVER failed in 7 years..My house is now in a foreclosure prevention process..God Bless America..Kristin
It is truly amazing how wonderful my day care parents are. I updated them as well, and my phone has been ringing off the hook. One parent even went so far as to call our councilman on my behalf, and their office is going to call the Child Care Office and ask why follow up inspections and or investigations (as required in the regulations) weren’t done, or at least a “second chance” option available. We’ll see. Other parents are trying to pull together a defense and locate an attorney or someone to at least represent me, besides myself (which I ended up doing last time.) They are very angry..Now I’m looking into Montessori schools, and may enroll in their training program. It may be the proverbial blessing in disguise. Either way, change needs to happen, and parents deserve some rights as to choosing who and how their children are raised..You are free to use this info and story as you see fit. Anything and everything we can do to let government know we are mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore! – K.