A sign posted to the door of Enchanted Child Care’s Dietz Avenue location states the site is closed, but gave no indication as to why.
On Friday, May 15, a Keizer-based child care center had its license to provide emergency child care revoked on charges of mistreatment of children and more.
Enchanted Child Care & Preschool with locations on Chemawa Road North and Dietz Avenue Northeast as well as two Salem locations was ordered to stop providing care by Monday, May 18. Michelle Long is owner of the business and denies the allegations in a report from the Oregon Department of Education (ODE). She has the right to request a hearing to appeal the charges.
“Two of the Enchanted Child Care facilities (currently operating as Emergency Child Care) had compliance findings against them. Two other locations were closed because the owner/operator and was suspended from the Central Background Registry,” said Melanie Mesaros, communications director for the ODE Early Learning Division.
Long was suspended from the background registry as a result of the compliance violations. Mesaros stressed that it was only Long’s license to provide emergency care during the COVID-19 pandemic that was revoked, the facilities might continue operating under its regular licenses once pandemic-related restrictions are eased.
“Once the state of emergency is over, the facility(ies) may resume providing child care at their location under any regular license in effect at that time,” Mesaros said.
Paperwork documenting the compliance details a litany of accusations and findings:
• A staff member was found to have grabbed the arms of children or “flicked” children in the mouth as methods of guidance and discipline. There were instances of some preschool-aged children being led by the arm from one site to another as a form of discipline and ridicule, accompanied by statements such as being taken to the “baby building” “so they can see what it’s like.”
• The same staff member and Long herself are also accused of screaming at children. The staff member made mean faces at children in her care while Long would kneel on the floor at eye-level with a child and grit her teeth. At least once, the yelling was loud enough to be heard through a closed door.
• The same staff member accused of aggressive forms of discipline was found to be verbally degrading toward kids. “Facility child caregiver … made degrading statements to children who had toileting accidents including ‘Ugh, why are you like this?’, ‘What is wrong with you?’” and more the report states.
• Some children were confined to enclosed areas and left unattended as a manner of discipline.
• Snacks were withheld as a form of discipline when children did not stay on nap mats during nap times, which lasted two to two-and-a-half hours.
• Children were being kept from using restroom during nap times even if they were not asleep. At least one child reported pain as a result of being kept from relieving themselves. At least two children were kept on nap mats in soaked clothing after wetting themselves during the two-hour allotted nap time.
• Parents were kept from visiting the facility or picked up children during the scheduled nap times, a violation of state rules that permits parents access to all areas of a facility during operating hours.
• Multiple parents reported picking up their kids with significant amounts of mucous on their faces, and even in their hair, at the end of the day.
• One parent reported their infant had a significant amount of dirt on their feet at the end of a day of care and asked that the child’s shoes be kept on during care hours. The child’s shoes and socks continued to be removed and the problem persisted.
Other problems included: forcing children to re-use single-serving cups; frequently running out of paper towels for cleaning, not purchasing enough items to prepare menu items displayed for parents and not recording substitutions for at least the past two months.
The report concludes that both the problem staffer and Long have “demonstrated behavior that has a detrimental effect on children, and should not have access to child care children.”
Long contests the charges in the state’s findings.
“The investigators didn’t follow protocol and didn’t do a thorough investigation,” Long said.
Long said the allegations in the report supplied by ODE are the result of Facebook rumors.
Long has the right to request a hearing to review the charges.