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DCF recommends Winter Haven daycare be shut down | News

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DCF recommends Winter Haven daycare be shut down

Winter Haven, Florida - 10 News is digging deeper on allegations of abuse at a Winter Haven daycare. The complaints are so serious that Florida's Department of Children and Families wants to revoke the facility's license and shut the place down.

The complaints have been filed against Cypress Oaks School at 3079 Cypress Gardens Road. In the DCF report, the facility director, Carolyn Elmore, is accused of refusing to help a young disabled boy go to the bathroom and instructing her staff members not to help him, too. When the child's father sent the child to the facility with pull up diapers on, the report says Elmore told the staff not to change him so he spent the day in a soiled diaper.

There are also complaints of children not being fed, a child forced to stand in a corner for an hour and one parent wasn't notified that her child wasn't eating and had been throwing up throughout the day.

DCF's report on Cypress Oaks School (PDF)

Cypress Oaks School is a daycare that also offers an after-school program to parents. It's been around since 1994, but its days could be numbered if DCF has its way.

DCF spokeswoman Kristi Gray says the allegations are serious enough that the agency has recommended that the facility have its license revoked. "The decision to go that direction would be marginally due to the serious nature of the allegations," she says.

The report also states that a staff member complained that Elmore frightened one child so badly that whenever the director yells at her, the child wets her pants.

Another complaint is that Elmore was observed on at least one occasion telling children that they would be locked in with rats which would nibble on them if they failed to behave.

10 News went inside the daycare to try to get Carolyn Elmore's side of the story, but were told "no comment" and we were referred to their attorney. 10 News talked to several parents who said they were happy with the care their children receive at the facility, but none of them would talk with us on camera.

But a staff member in the parking lot had plenty to say. A staff member yelled, "You have one side of the story and that's all! Talk to the lawyer, because you turn everything around."

Meanwhile, Gray says the alleged problems haven't been corrected at the daycare. "They have not been resolved, so DCF has been left with no other option to move forward."

But moving forward could take months. Gray says Elmore has requested a hearing and it will be up to an administrative judge to make the final decision on whether or not to shut the place down. In the meantime, parents weren't notified of the complaints in the report, and neither DCF nor the daycare has to tell them.

Gray adds,"It is our hope that -- and we always encourage parents not to check just once, but check on an ongoing basis -- facilities are inspected up to three times a year, so that information is always new and current. There is no letter that goes out to each parent."

Click here to search the records of any daycare in Florida.


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