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Are Children Safe At Day Care?

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RALEIGH — North Carolina state law allows a day care owner with a history of violations to close a troubled center, and then open a new one.

A day care center license is attached to the building, not the operator.

One Raleigh woman received a license for a new center even though she has a history of problems at two other centers she has owned.

The state said that there is a delicate balance between an owner's legal rights, and the safety of children.

Lisa Lincoln is at odds with the state. In March, she closed the Raleigh Child Care Center on Kent Road, and moved her kids to a new center that she purchased called Honey Bees on Tryon Road.

Lincoln said that she made the switch because the Kent Road facility was falling apart.

"The building here is 30 years old," Lincoln said. "It was going to be entirely too expensive to do upkeep and improvements on the building."

However, stacks of files at the North Carolina division of child development show that the state had recommended Lincoln's license be revoked at the Kent Road Center, and at another one of her centers on Lake Wheeler Road.

The state found 125 violations at the two centers dating back to 1992 including improper staff/child ratios.

Due to a loophole in state law, providers who have problems at one center are allowed to close it and open another one.

N.C. Child Development Director Stephanie Fanjul said, "At present it's possible for an individual who is the owner or operator of a child care program where we have recommended revocation to open another program under another name in another location."

The license revocation became moot and was dropped when Lincoln closed Kent Road. She claims that she was not trying to run from the state.

"If there had been any fear then I would get out of the day care business completely," Lincoln said. "We moved to make a positive change for my employees, my parents and my children."

Since the move, the new center, Honey Bees, has been investigated twice by both the state and county sanitation inspectors. However, only minor violations were found and were quickly fixed.

The general assembly is expected to pass a new child care law this year which would require an owner to wait one year before opening a new center after a license is suspended or revoked.

Like all new centers, Honey Bees was issued a temporary six month license.

After Lisa Lincoln submitted a plan to make changes at the Lake Wheeler Center, a judge recommended it be kept open, the state has 90 days to review that decision.

One significant change is training. Wednesday, ten of Lincoln's teachers will graduate from a course in early childhood development.

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Amanda Lamb, Reporter
Lori Foushee, Photographer
Jason Darwin, Web Editor

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