You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

One adult watching 13 kids: Here’s why 15 people have been arrested in Iowa for violating day care laws

Des Moines Register logo Des Moines Register 1/13/2020 Jason Clayworth, Des Moines Register
a person posing for the camera: Daisha Rasmussen was in January 2016 charged with operating a day care without authority, a simple misdemeanor. A DHS investigator said she was watching three children, which was a violation to a previous order from the agency that prohibited her involvement in child care, court records show. © Cass County Sheriff Daisha Rasmussen was in January 2016 charged with operating a day care without authority, a simple misdemeanor. A DHS investigator said she was watching three children, which was a violation to a previous order from the agency that prohibited her involvement in child care, court records show.

© Copyright 2019, Des Moines Register and Tribune Co.

Jennifer Wade became a registered in-home day care provider after being charged in 2015 for operating an illegal facility.

She had six children in her care — one more than the legal limit for unregulated child care facilities — when an inspector from the Iowa Department of Human Services made an unannounced visit to her Winfield home in June 2015.

In the lead-up to the 2020 election, all eyes are on Iowa. Get updates of all things Iowa politics delivered to your inbox.

Wade, who called the overcapacity issue “a huge mistake,” said she didn’t know before the charge that there are capacity limits for unregulated day cares. She cooperated with state and local investigators, and the charge was ultimately dropped.

Iowa's day care dangers: 4 children have died at day cares warned earlier they were caring for too many kids

Wade believes she was treated fairly. She also believes some protective measures are needed to ensure children are safe, but says she feels conflicted because of what she views as the onerous nature of day care licensing or registration.

Take a closer look at serious central Iowa violations found in day care inspections database

Registration required every room in her home to be inspected for safety violations and every member of her home to be backgrounded and fingerprinted. She also must take classes annually on issues like CPR and mandatory child abuse reporting.

Wade must maintain a file on every child she watches, updated at least once annually, that includes detailed information about emergency care plans; a “release” sheet outlining who can pick the child up from the day care; vaccination records; and documentation of yearly physicals.

Regulations she says are “like a Tetris board” detail how many kids can be in her care, which vary by the children’s ages and by how long they are in her supervision.

“I’m still torn between whether you have to be licensed or not,” Wade said. “I see the benefit in terms of checks and balances. On the flip side, it’s a lot to do. And if you don’t want to do it? Well, you can see why we need more day care providers.”

Part 2:  Found in licensed central Iowa day cares: Drugs, felons and abused children

Part 3: Iowa's regulation of in-home day cares is light; caseloads of inspectors heavy

UP NEXT
UP NEXT

Arrested for day care licensing violations

Fifteen people have been arrested in Iowa for violating child care licensing laws since 2014, according to information from the Iowa judicial branch.

ANKENY:  In April, Jennifer Brungardt, 43, was charged with a count of operating a child care center without a license, a serious misdemeanor. The charge followed the Sept. 5, 2018, death of 3-month-old Samuel Mann, who was one of 11 children at her in-home day care when he was found unresponsive. About three months before Mann's death, Ankeny police had notified DHS that Brungardt was operating at overcapacity, court records show. She also faces a felony charge of neglect or abandonment and has pleaded not guilty to both charges.

COUNCIL BLUFFS:  In December 2015, Karrie Feekin, 48, was charged with operating a child care center while prohibited, a simple misdemeanor. DHS officials had observed more than five children in her care on two occasions in 2015 before the charge, court records show. She was found guilty of the charge and fined $100. Online records do not indicate she is currently registered or licensed.

CEDAR COUNTY:  In April 2014, Marisa Grunder, 37, was charged with operating a day care without authority, a simple misdemeanor. She pleaded guilty and was fined $65. Online records do not indicate she is currently registered or licensed.

DANVILLE:  In July 2016, Lisa Leathers, 50, was charged with operating a child care center without a license, a serious misdemeanor. A DHS investigator said she was watching eight children. DHS had investigated overcapacity complaints against Leathers in 2012 and 2014, court records show. She pleaded guilty in November 2016, was fined $315 and placed on probation for two years. Leathers registered her operation as an in-home day care following the 2016 charges.  

a woman wearing a green shirt: Trina Jae Mazza © Special to the Register Trina Jae Mazza

JOHNSTON:  In February, Trina Mazza, 47, was charged with operating a child care center without a license, a serious misdemeanor. She was providing care to seven children in her home in February when 17-month-old Tucker Schneider was found unresponsive and later died, court records show. Mazza, who also faces a charge of felony child endangerment causing death and has pleaded not guilty. DHS had warned Mazza in 2011 and again in 2017 that she was caring for more than five children, a violation of state law, records show.

CLEAR LAKE:  In September 2018, Peggy McLaughlin, 57, was charged with operating a child care center while prohibited, a simple misdemeanor. A DHS investigator said she was watching 10 children and had previously been given notices in 2017 about capacity issues. She pleaded guilty to the charge in October 2018 and paid a $100 fine. Online records do not indicate she is currently registered or licensed.

KEOKUK:  In January, Michelle Means, 45, was charged with operating an in-home child care center without registration, a simple misdemeanor. A DHS investigator said she was watching seven children and had previously been given notices in 2018 about capacity issues. In April she agreed to allow DHS to conduct random compliance checks and to pay court costs associated with the charge. The charge will be expunged from her record in late October if she does not commit any further criminal offenses. Online records do not indicate she is currently registered or licensed.

FRUITLAND:  In August 2017, Brandy Moedano, 35, was charged with operating a child care center while prohibited, a simple misdemeanor. DHS found as many as 13 children in her care on two separate occasions before the charge. She pleaded guilty in September 2017 and was fined $250. Online records do not indicate she is currently registered or licensed.

ATLANTIC:  In January 2016, Daisha Rasmussen, 40, was charged with operating a day care without authority, a simple misdemeanor. A DHS investigator said she was watching three children, which violated a previous order from the agency that prohibited her involvement in child care, court records show. Officials also said she was impaired while caring for the three children. She pleaded guilty to the charge in February 2016 and paid a $65 fine. Rasmussen died June 2. Her obituary said she provided day care services. “Children provided great joy to her, something anyone could tell from the extra mile she took with her daycare achieving advanced certifications,” her obituary said.

FRUITLAND:  In December 2016, Holly Rudolph, 40, was charged with operating a day care without authority, a simple misdemeanor. A DHS investigator said she was watching nine children. She pleaded guilty to the charge in January 2017 and was fined $65. Online records do not indicate she is currently registered or licensed.

INDEPENDENCE:  Nicole Stark, 36, was in April 2017 charged with two counts of operating a child care center while prohibited, simple misdemeanors. A DHS investigator said she was watching three children in addition to her own four children, which was a violation to a previous order from the agency that prohibited her involvement in child care, court records show. (Stark had been convicted in 2014 of child endangerment charges and allowing improper access to guns for people under 21.) She was found guilty of both counts and was fined $65 for each violation. Online records do not indicate she is currently registered or licensed.

BETTENDORF:  In July 2018, Jennifer Swisher, 35, was charged with operating a day care without authority, a simple misdemeanor. She had too many children in her care, and DHS had previously warned her about the issue, court documents show. The charge was dropped about two weeks later following a motion filed by the state to dismiss it. Records obtained in this investigation show Swisher was issued another DHS warning for having more than five children in her care on April 25. Online records do not indicate she is currently registered or licensed.

WINFIELD:  In June 2015, Jennifer Wade, 47, was charged with operating an in-home child care center without registration, a simple misdemeanor. A DHS investigator said she was watching six children. Wade agreed to register her day care, and the charge was dropped about three months later. Wade is currently a registered in-home day care provider.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: One adult watching 13 kids: Here’s why 15 people have been arrested in Iowa for violating day care laws

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from Des Moines Register

Des Moines Register
Des Moines Register
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon