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Archive for Friday, August 27, 1993

DA INVESTIGATES CHILD-CARE CENTER

August 27, 1993

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The Douglas County District Attorney has joined an investigation of a locally owned child day-care center that lost its license in July.

Lawrence police officers went to the Tree House Child Care Center, 200 Mount Hope Ct., and found it operating as recently as Aug. 18, a police report released Thursday said.

"We are empowered to investigate and we are investigating," Douglas County Dist. Atty. Jerry Wells said. He would not release details of the investigation and has yet to file any charges.

Brian Tolefree, co-owner of the Tree House, said this morning that he had not been contacted formally about the criminal investigation.

"I'm not in the day-care business anymore, so I don't know anything about it," he said. "I have no comment. Zero."

Greg Crawford, public information officer for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said the criminal investigation accompanied civil actions begun earlier this month.

"If a day-care center is operating without a license, that is a criminal activity," he said .

KDHE, which revoked the Tree House's license July 22, filed for a judicial injunction Aug. 8 in Douglas County District Court which, if upheld, would force the owners to cease operation.

The Tolefrees have until Sept. 8 to answer the civil petition.

"We have not yet received a response. Time is still ticking," Crawford said.

On July 23, the state Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services stopped providing subsidies for parents to pay for care at Tree House.

At the time, Tolefree said a few patrons liked the center enough to stay with the center without the SRS money.

The license revocation followed an order by KDHE Secretary Robert Harder citing 42 alleged violations of state regulations at the center.

Violations included failure to have medicines and household poisons in locked storage as well as failure to have on file written permission of the parent for emergency medical treatment of a child.

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