Parents: We Oppose Revocation of Our Daycare’s License

Curious Kids Childcare is seen here Tuesday, July 10, along 19th Avenue North in Fargo. Erin Bormett / The Forum

This letter, submitted for publication by the signatories including every parent with a child at Curious Kids Childcare, oppose the state’s removal of that business’ child care license. A PDF of their letter, including their signatures, is below.

We, the parents of children attending Curious Kids Childcare, are at odds with the State’s decision to revoke the license.

We find the response of revocation to be woefully unjust.  We have no evidence that Curious Kids Childcare continues to be willfully or blatantly out of compliance nor do we have any evidence that the state allowed for any corrective measures.

The state’s decision to revoke the license is fatal to a respectable North Dakota business in an industry that is underserved, it is disruptive to North Dakota working professionals, and it is disruptive to North Dakota families.

We write this not to minimize the fact that due to a series of unfortunate and unusual contributing factors three children were able to escape the grounds unnoticed and were returned by a passerby in a short window of complacency by the staff on an unusual day. This is an alarming incident to all of us, most of all to the owner, Michelle Roeszler.

We have received the revocation notice and find the following items in the “Factual Basis for Revocation”, to indeed, not be facts:

  • The use of the word “bonfire” is misleading as it is specifically used to describe large fires. The fires that Michelle did have were, in fact, small and contained in a backyard fire bowl. She kept the lid at arm’s reach at all times and did not let children run or engage in unsafe behavior around the fire. A different word should have been used in this official document to more clearly describe what types of fires the children were being exposed to.

  • The Revocation Notice, notes that “Ms. Roeszler, in turn, had the parents sign letters of support to continue to allow having bonfires at the child care.”  We, the parents, were not asked to write those letters, but did so when we realized that the licensing specialist was concerned about them. There was no clear disallowance of a small, contained fire in licensing regulations (only one sentence disallowing open burning that is in a paragraph referring only to trash.)  Ms. Roeszler never even received an official correction from the county about the fire. As soon as Ms. Roeszler was told she could not have a permit by the city fire authorities, she removed the fire bowl. It is unfair to use this situation to justify a revocation.

  • The Revocation Notice speaks to the fact that the staff, when interviewed, could not remember the exact number of children on the playground. We think it is important to note that the incident happened on Friday, April 27th and the staff were not interviewed until the following Thursday, May 3rd. It should not be surprising for witnesses to remember exact details 6 days after an incident occurred. It is clear that the number of children is not an issue as there were sufficient staff present that day on the playground.

  • Included in the Factual Basis section was a quote from a parent saying that it was no surprise that her toddler knew how to open the gate because his sister had shown him how the day before. This is not, in fact, what the parent said, so the quote is a mischaracterization. The parent said her 5 year old daughter tried and failed to open the gate the day before (the bungee cord prevented her from opening it). We see no reason for this to be included as a basis for revocation. A toddler learning something from an older sibling has no part in a child care revocation. The issue at stake is the loss of supervision from staff.

  • It is important to note that the Fire Inspector required the yard gate to be openable with a one step system so that children could escape if all adults were incapacitated in the event of a fire. In other child care centers, there are one step gates with no additional security mechanisms.The fire inspector understood the need for it with kids and offered the exemption to fire code. Previous to this incident the safe dispersal area was outside the gate but now the fire inspector has allowed for a safe dispersal area within the confines of the closed gate more than 59 feet away from the building. The new safe dispersal process has been completed with the new fire inspector and a key lock has been installed to the gate making it non-operational.

In addition to the problematic aspects of the investigation, there is a fundamental unfairness in the due process in this case and unequal treatment under the law. The Century Code states that the day care operator should be able to operate until the appeal process is decided or until their license expires (“whichever comes first”), so if a provider’s license happened to be expiring one week after revocation notice, s/he would only be able to operate for one week, whereas one whose license happened to be expiring after 11 months, would have all that time to appeal in court and stay open. This is fundamentally unfair to those whose license expire soon after their revocation notice (as is the case for Ms. Roeszler, who only had about 6 weeks from time of revocation notice to time of license expiration).

Following the incident, Mrs. Roeszler immediately delivered the facts to the parents and proper authorities, immediately made corrective actions to her physical space and procedures, and has since upheld the policies to ensure this never happens again. Her vigilance is unparalleled, and a testament of her dedication to the children in her care. Her vigilance also demonstrates her willingness to change her policies in order to meet compliance and to provide the best care possible.

We write this, we support, and we stand behind Michelle in spite of this serious incident. Her record of 11 years of successful business in the State of North Dakota should further validate her. You will find a deluge of Fargo families, whose children have been nurtured by Mrs. Roeszler and whose parents can attest to her highest quality of care, that are loudly and stubbornly advocating for her to remain in business.

Beyond our concern for providing high quality care for our own children, we pale at the message this revocation sends to anyone considering becoming a licensed day care operator. This precedent would establish an enormous business risk for anyone considering entering the market, putting further strain on an industry already facing extreme capacity shortages. We don’t want that to happen to our fellow North Dakota families, friends and neighbors.

We are hoping beyond hope for a reasonable resolution for us, everyone hard at work at the DHS, Michelle, and most importantly, the children. We ask that the rules be applied fairly considering other day care providers have had similar and even more egregious major violations and have not had their licenses revoked.

We love the care center we have chosen for our children. We love its vision and execution, we love the staff, we love the family community, we love Michelle. We trust her with our whole hearts, we trust her with the most vulnerable parts of ourselves; we trust her with our children.

We ask that you reconsider this decision and not revoke her license.

Thank you for your consideration!

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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