Lehigh Valley

Case of cursing kids: Daycare has prior violations

Records show incidents of leaving infants, toddlers alone in dark room

Case of cursing kids: Daycare has prior violations; video report by WFMZ's Bo Koltnow

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Last year, Maria Backenstoe put her young son, Ethan, into daycare.

"It's a little terrifying. You're putting your child's life in the hands of someone else. It's scary," Backenstoe said.

Research online and advice from friends helped to ease her fears.

Last week, video posted to Facebook showed an employee of Creative Minds Daycare in Allentown coaxing kids to curse. It is an example of a real-life nightmare for parents.

Records show the daycare center has a host of prior violations, from hiring employees without state police or FBI background checks to leaving infants and toddlers alone in a dark room.

In another incident, two staff members were found asleep on the floor in a dark room.

"This is so unfortunate. It's really heartbreaking that children were in that environment," said Paula Margraf, the CEO of Community Services for Children, an Allentown-based nonprofit focusing on kids.

Margraf said before parents pick a daycare, they need to visit the center several times and at different times of the day, as well as interview the director, ask how long it's been in business and the qualifications of the staff.

"I think it's important for parents to pay close attention to the environment, look at the children. Do they look happy? Do they have their needs met?" she said.

Parents can also check online and see if the center is part of the Keystone Stars Program, a voluntary rating program. The higher the stars, the better the program.

Also, check online with the Department of Human Services for any violations. That's where 69 News found several against Creative Minds.

Backenstoe said it just comes down to a little homework.

"I would do research, and if you have a friend in daycare, go off their recommendation," she said.

The DHS said it is looking into the video situation. The daycare is licensed through May 2017, however, the state agency said licenses can be revoked if there is the threat of imminent danger to kids.

69 News did reach out to the attorney for Creative Minds about the past violations. He was unavailable for comment.

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Allentown, PA 18102





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