Subsidies continue funding daycares with reported child abuse

ST. LOUIS – Fox 2 News found Missouri regulators continued funding two daycares we’ve recently exposed where children were hurt.

February 1, 2019 – a teacher is caught on video throwing a toddler across the room at Brighter Day Care and Preschool in Pine Lawn. Despite investigations by both law enforcement and state regulators, taxpayer subsidies continue paying the center.

December 2016 – teachers organized a toddler fight club at Adventure Learning Center on Gravois. State regulators required more teacher training and, again, kept paying child care subsidies.

“That can sometimes subsidize a full daycare`s worth of kids for an entire year,” said attorney Jennifer Hansen said.

Hansen is representing the families in both daycare cases.

“Accountability only seems to occur when someone is hit in the pocketbook,” she said.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt last week said he’d fight for accountability.

“If you seek to harm children, if you have an environment where that is pervasive, we are going to do everything we can to stop you,” he said.

Schmitt announced a civil investigation into the daycare fight club Fox 2 first reported last year. He said he cannot discuss the investigation but attorney Hansen said she hopes it includes scrutiny of the money trail.

“We are hopeful, cautiously optimistic, that the Attorney General will do the job that nobody else did,” she said.

Hansen points out that taxpayers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each year on daycare for low-income families. She said Adventure Learning Center’s director recently testified, “96 percent of the students receive subsidies to attend.”

“The state has skin in the game here because the state is aware in the daycare fight club case and they’re now being made aware in this assault case that these daycares are still receiving money and still making a nice profit off the state,” she said.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson also said the state was accountable, issuing the following statement:

“After seeing this horrific video and videos from multiple cases in recent weeks, I am committed to doing everything I can to protect our children and grandchildren. As a father, grandparent, and governor, this must be a priority for us all. The daycare worker has been terminated from her position but we can’t stop there. I am pulling together assets and our state directors to explore what more the state of Missouri can do in the future to ensure safe child care for every Missouri child, and we will be making an announcement in the near future.”

Missouri regulators say they are currently required to continue paying daycares as long as the center has a license. Fox 2 has requested a list of daycares that have been stripped of a license so we can see what it takes to stop state funding. We’ll follow up with those answers.

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