GREAT FALLS – A Great Falls daycare has had its license suspended by the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) after several complaints of abuse.
According to Cascade County Attorney Josh Racki, Many Blessings 2, the daycare in the former Mini Hearts and Hands building, is closed and being investigated by the Great Falls Police Department.
The child care license through DPHHS is under the name Many Blessings 2 and DPHHS confirmed Misty Cartwright is listed as the owner.
There have been several complaints about the daycare listed by DPHHS. The facility has been on probationary status since June of 2017.
The majority of the complaints are about children to staff ratio and children not being supervised. The first complaint against the daycare was filed in February of 2017.
The DPHHS investigation states the ratio of child-to-staff for children under 23 months is 4:1. For two to three year old children, the ratio is 8:1, while the ratio for children six years and older is 14:1.
In August of 2017, a complaint was filed after an infant was injured. According to the child care licensor investigation, there was one provider to 12 children ranging in age from one years old to six years and older. The complaint investigation states caregivers did not supervise children at all times and one caregiver admitted to supervising two rooms. During this time, an infant was injured and the caregiver was not aware of the injuries. The investigation also states that children under the age of two were interacting with children over the age of two in the same room.
It was also noted that a second infant was seriously injured at the facility in June of 2017. In both cases of infant injuries, staff could not explain how the infants were injured, according to the investigation report.
In the August incident, the infant was taken to the emergency room for care. Law enforcement and Child and Family Services conducted investigations in the incidents. The last complaint filed with the Montana DPHHS was from December of 2018.
The child care licensor recently reviewed video surveillance and notes taken by the Great Falls Police Department in February of 2019.
According to the child care licensor findings, in May of 2018, children can be seen going into an activity with no staff present. At one point, a staff member entered the room and lined the children up. Around noon, 12 children can be seen playing in the activity room with no supervision and two of those children were fighting over a toy.
Over the two and half days of video the investigator reviewed, at least six children were put into time out play pens in dark rooms with doors shut and no supervision. Some of these children would climb out of the pens.
The child care licensor also reviewed video where the director, along with six caregivers, used inappropriate discipline on a child in their care. The video is dated in May of 2018.
During this time, the director and staff members did not report multiple incidents of suspected abuse, according to the investigation.
The investigation report describes an incident from the video when a staff member entered a room at the facility and dragged what appears to be a three or four year old out of the room by one arm. The child was brought back into the room along with an infant feeding chair. The child was retrained in the chair for 14 minutes, until another child was put in the chair. The second child was in the chair for almost an hour.
Another incident described in the investigation report states a staff member struggled with getting a child out from under a table. Once out from under the table, the child wrapped their legs around the staff member’s leg and resisted. The staff member picked the child up by their legs and carried the child upside down.
The last incident in the report states a staff member grabbed a child forcefully by their head and spun their head towards the staff member. The staff member then poked another child in the forehead, pushing the child backwards. The staff member then spanked a child who was in a time out play pen.
In the child care licensor findings, the investigator states the provider continues to employ caregivers who endanger the wellbeing of the children in their care. They are doing so by inappropriate guidance and discipline, according to the findings.
MTN News reached out to Cartwright, who declined to comment.
Reporting by Margaret DeMarco for MTN News