A summer camp, operated by a daycare under investigation for child molestation, continued to raise eyebrows on Monday.
Kevin Savage, Administrator for Licensing and Regulation at DCYF, said its direct links to the Tender Care Learning Center are “concerning.” He said DCYF does not have jurisdiction over the camp, but they will investigate because of the strong marketing connection to the licensed daycare.
“The department wasn’t aware they were marketing it that way,” said Savage when he learned the camp shared the same name, location, phone number and website as Tender Care Learning Center.
The camp’s use of city owned Coggeshall School has already stirred debate among local officials and some residents. It was not allowed to open Monday.
Tender Care Learning Center is under investigation after the 17-year-old son of co-owner Gregory Johnson allegedly molested a 5-year-old girl.
Savage said the center was suspended Friday after investigators
discovered two staff members did not have appropriate background checks.
A sign pinned to the day care’s location on Dr. Marcus Wheatland Boulevard, advertises the camp as “Tender Care Summer Camp 2013” with the same number and address as Tender Care Learning Center. The day care’s website refers to the camp as their “summer program.”
“It’s concerning if they are linking it to their license,” Savage added. “It’s concerning to DCYF if they are advertising to their daycare center and certainly if they are stating it is part of their center,” he said.
Johnson also owns and operates a DCYF licensed home daycare at 57 Gould Street in Newport. The agency conducted an inspection of that location on Friday, but found no violations, said Savage.
Over the past three years, the Gould Street daycare has received seven complaints.
Teal Claudia, a mother of four, said although she never complained officially, she pulled her kids out a year ago because of the conditions.
She said at the Gould Street location, she believed
the kids were “locked in playpens” and never allowed to go outside. A
neighbor, who wished to remain anonymous, said he hasn’t seen the kids
outside in over three years.
“The center is shady, but the Gould Street location is appalling,” she said. The neighbor said he had to call the city three times in order to get Johnson to remove trash in front of the house.
“The supervisors are a bunch of drug addicts," said Claudia. "They sit in rocking chairs and stare at the wall all day,” she said.
Savage said of the seven complaints, one was substantiated in 2010 when a staff member did not have proper clearance to work in the daycare. That staff member was terminated.