WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – The owner of Carr’s Academy, one of two daycare workers arrested Wednesday on child abuse charges, will likely be disqualified from providing child care in the future, and the daycare centers she owns may have to close, WECT has learned.
“If the Division of Child Development and Early Education is made aware that a child care provider is charged criminally with child abuse, the provider is disqualified from providing child care pursuant to NCGS 110-90.2. Depending on the circumstances, a facility may need to close. With certain protections in place; however, a facility may be allowed to remain open if DCDEE can ensure children are in a safe and healthy environment,” Kelly Height, a spokesperson for North Carolina’s Division of Child Development and Early Education told WECT.
Pamela Carr, the owner of Carr’s Academy on Peachtree Avenue, and her employee, Geraldine Sidbury, are both facing criminal charges. The mother of a 7-year-old girl in their care tells WECT the two took turns beating her daughter and another child with a belt, and the incident was caught on camera.
Sources familiar with the investigation say the girl stood up in her seat on the daycare van ride home from school in May, prompting the inappropriate discipline. The child did not immediately tell her mother what had happened, but did tell a teacher at Snipes Academy, who contacted authorities.
According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Division of Child Development and Early Education, Carr’s Academy has been cited for violations several times in the last few years. The most recent violation happened in March.
“The facility did not follow their discipline policy as they threatened a child with a spanking from their parent and allowed with parent to spank the child in the classroom bathroom,” the state website explains of the violation.
Prior to that, there was another violation recorded during an unannounced state visit to Carr’s Academy in September 2020. This time, it was a problem with inadequate staff-to-child ratios.
“Upon arrival 18 children ages 2-3 years of age were observed in space 1 with one staff member,” the state inspector recorded.
Carr’s Academy was cited twice in 2019. Once, in September, for failing to submit forms necessary for mandatory criminal background checks for a staff member. During another unannounced visit in January of 2019, the state inspector again cited the center for inadequate staff-to-child ratios, which may have played a role in another inappropriate discipline citation.
“Each child was not attended to in a nurturing and appropriate manner, or in keeping with the child’s developmental needs. The lead teacher in space 5 was observed snatching trash out of a child’s hands with no verbal response. The lead teacher approached a child, forcefully put the child’s hand in his lap, and in a firm tone told him ‘no’. The lead teacher approached a child, took the child by the hand and walked him to the diaper changing table. The child was then placed on the diaper changing table and the lead teacher proceeded to change his diaper. There was not any verbal explanation from the lead teacher to the child having his diaper change,” the report reads.
Parents who would like to find out more about any violations on file at their child’s daycare can visit this website. The state conducts unannounced visits at licensed daycare facilities twice a year, and can conduct additional visits initiated by complaints from the community. In addition, childcare experts say parents should be in tune with their children for indicators about the quality of a daycare.
“There’s nobody better to look out for what’s happening with your child nobody that knows your own child better than you, yourself,” said Jane Morrow, Executive Director of Smart Start New Hanover County, a local resource for parents and child care providers. “If you talk to your children about how their day went if they’re happy to go to school they come home happy that’s always a good sign. Talk to your child’s teacher talk to the director and you can certainly anytime you want to come in to Smart Start and early childhood education staff are happy to talk to you anybody individually about the signs what makes a good child care center.”
Morrow acknowledged parents who have concerns about the quality of their child’s daycare may have difficulty finding another facility with immediate openings. She said in that situation, parents may need to rely on friends and family for a temporary childcare solution.
“It’s harder and harder for [daycares] to find qualified staff right now, at the same time that people are coming back to work, and needing childcare, and the same time it’s summer starting and so children that might be in school in the fall are needing childcare for the summer. So we’ve got a combination of a number of factors that are making a shortage of childcare slots and a slight increase demand right now,” Morrow explained.
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