Missouri moves to shutter day care center after video shows 3-year-old girl thrown across room

ST. LOUIS -- Missouri is taking steps to revoke the license of a suburban St. Louis day care center after two of its workers were charged with abuse and the state will form a working group to examine child care issues, Gov. Mike Parson said Monday.

Parson's announcement comes after surveillance video went viral showing one former worker at the Brighter Day Care and Preschool in Pine Lawn tossing a 3-year-old across a room. The girl was taken to a hospital Feb. 1 with a deep gash on her head. Charging documents say another worker carried a 4-year-old girl by her foot and hurt her arm days later.

Parsons said the working group would aim to ensure parents can trust the people they entrust with care of their children.

"Missouri parents who place their child into the hands of a child care provider expect their child will get quality, safe care while they work hard to support their family," Parson said in a statement. "I am committed to doing everything I can to protect our children. As a father, grandfather, and Governor, this must be a priority for us all."

The state's Department of Health and Senior Services said in a letter announcing the revocation effort that investigators also substantiated complaints that a worker dropped a 6-year-old off at the wrong house and another slammed a 3-year-old boy onto a cot, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports .

"These actions do not demonstrate that Brighter Day Care & Preschool, Inc. is able to provide a safe environment for children," Sue Porter, administrator of the Department of Health and Senior Service's child care section, said in the 17-page letter mailed on Friday.

The day care has a month to appeal the decision to the state Administrative Hearing Commission, and will be allowed to remain open during the appeals process. The state and the day care could agree a settlement as they await a hearing.

Timothy Smith, an attorney for Brighter Day, has said that the center is cooperating with investigators and "has provided exemplary, high quality educational and child care services to thousands of children and their families for more than a decade."

St. Louis-area day cares have been beset by scandal in recent months. In November, KTVI published video footage from 2016 of 3- and 4-year-olds engaging in fist fights at the Adventure Learning Center in St. Louis. Attorney General Eric Schmitt is investigating what his office called a "day care fight club." In December, police found a dead infant at an unlicensed day care in Maplewood.

Legislation by state Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, seeks to crack down on unlicensed child care facilities, which have caused problems in Missouri for years. The measure would add accountability measures and closes a loophole in state regulations that allows a caretaker to oversee an unlimited number of related children.

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