DCF Shuts Down Jacksonville Child Care Facility
~ Facility’s Owner Had Pleaded No Contest To A Disqualifying Offense
-“This shows that Child Safety is the Top Priority of the Department of Children and Families” ~
JACKSONVILLE, FLA. – DCF is announcing that it has suspended the license of the Tiny Blessings child care facility at 4932 Blanding Boulevard on the city’s Westside. This suspension is effective as of the close of business on January 10, 2011. DCF is taking this action after the operator of the facility, Lawanda Jackson, pleaded no contest to a crime that is a disqualifying offense for someone working in a child care facility, according to the Florida Statutes. Additionally, DCF child care inspectors have found that the center has had numerous violations since it first opened in January 2010.
"We take the safety of children in child care facilities very seriously," explained Pattie Mallon, DCF Northeast Region Family and Community Services Manager. "Parents count on DCF to license and inspect child care facilities on an ongoing basis. This shows that child safety is the top priority of the Department of Children and Families. This operator pleaded no contest to a serious crime, and we're not confident that children can be safe at that facility."
When DCF learned of Jackson’s plea to the disqualifying offense, the Department’s child care licensing and legal teams sprang into action. The parties litigated the matter for over a year. They informed Jackson that she would not be able to be around children at the facility. When Jackson refused to stop working in the facility, DCF took legal action against her in court. This led to the ruling by an Administrative Law Judge, which allowed DCF to suspend Jackson’s license. DCF is also fining Jackson $1,225 for other violations.
DCF child care inspectors found serious violations by the Tiny Blessings child care facility, including the following:
- Allowing an employee to work with children before her state and federal background checks had been completed. This was a Class 1 violation of DCF’s child care codes, and the Department fined Jackson $100.
- A four-year-old child with special needs and his six-year-old sister were transported to a school by a facility employee. This employee then dropped off the small children alone, without verifying that a school employee had taken responsibility for them. The children were later found wandering the halls of the school. This was a Class 1 violation, and DCF fined Jackson $1,000, or $500 for each day the children were dropped off.
The Tiny Blessings child care facility originally opened in January 2010, and had a licensed capacity for 26 children.