JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In a few hours, the name of God's Precious Little Miracles Christian Academy went from good to bad.
"Never had a bad report, any violations, anything," said Pastor Diane Lewis.
Lewis is Vice President of the religious exempted child care facility. She wanted to address the Florida Department of Children and Families allegations that forced the closing of her facility.
"It had nothing to do with the center," she said.
DCF went to the day care after receiving a report that "a four-year-old had been abused by an employee."
Lewis said the facts are the alleged abuse happened in the suspect's house and the suspect is not a day care employee.
"We had a volunteer that was coming in to do her community hours and the parent and her got to know each other," said Lewis, "and this arrangement was completely set up between the parent and the Worksource worker."
The parent, Marica Paco, in a notarized statement said the alleged abuse happened in the suspect's house and had nothing to do with the day care.
Another allegation: "most of the people working at the facility had not had their names submitted for the required background screening."
"They stated we had six employees," said Lewis, "It was only five employees. Out of those five, four had been background screened since 2009.
Another allegation: DCF investigators "saw a two-year-old girl who had been in a van owned by the facility for about 20 minutes."
"It was not 20 minutes. The van was on a field trip. When they got back, the police bombarded them," she said, "and rush them. When they got them in, they would not allow them to go back and check the van."
Lewis said it was a chaotic situation.
DCF said it sent a cease and desist order to the facility and the facility agreed to close.
Alyscha Johnson, the day care attorney, said there was never a court order and the center should still be allowed to operate.
"There was no legal authority; At that point, there was no court order requiring her to shut down and a court order is required for her to shut down," said Johnson.
The case is still under investigation, which limits how much DCF can say, but spokesperson John Harrell addressed the points raised by Lewis.
Harrell said since Lewis signed a notice to cease operation, DCF did not need a court order.
As for background screenings, Harrell said when investigators asked to see the employees files, the information was not on file as required, and what was available did not meet all of the requirements.
He said the file would include not only a Level 2 background screening report, but there was no verified employment history; no signed abuse and neglect reporting statement; no affidavit of good moral character.
DCF said the person being investigated for abuse has prior felonies and should not have been in the day care, whether as an employee or volunteer.
JSO and DCF are still investigating the allegations of abuse.
First Coast News