June 30, 2000
Patricia Harris-Morehead at
(615) 313-4707


NASHVILLE—The Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS) today suspended the license of a child care center in Lenoir City, after concluding its licensing investigation regarding a 3-year-old child who wandered away from the center earlier this week.

Officials at the Prince and Princess Play School, located at 180 Highway 70 West, were served the suspension order earlier today and must close immediately. A "show cause" or probable cause hearing on the suspension has been scheduled for July 10th at 10:30 in Knoxville.

At that hearing, an independent hearing officer will decide if the suspension was justified, and whether it should be continued or lifted. If the hearing officer lifts the suspension at this hearing, the DHS still could proceed with revoking the license if it decides it is warranted.

The alleged incident occurred on June 26, 2000. According to DHS, the agency violated child care licensing rules such as supervision and grouping of children, adult/child ratios, and management's and staff's responsibilities.

DHS is responsible for licensing family homes, group homes, and child care centers in Tennessee. The state agency also has the authority to suspend, revoke, or deny child care licenses for serious violations. Last October, the agency implemented a zero-tolerance policy after a series of careless incidents that jeopardized the health and safety of children continued to occur at a number of child care agencies.

"We are suspending the license under our zero tolerance policy due to the serious nature of this violation, " state Human Services Commissioner Natasha Metcalf said.

"Situations that jeopardize the health and safety of children in licensed child care facilities are thoroughly investigated, reviewed, and considered on a case-by-case basis before the zero tolerance policy is applied."

"We are deeply concerned about the health and safety of all children and will continue to use all available enforcement tools to ensure that children are safe while attending licensed child care programs," Metcalf said

The child care center is licensed to care for up to 78 children. Approximately 25 of the children are in the state's child care subsidy program. The center's annual license was renewed in November of last year; the center received its first license in 1983. Parents who need assistance finding child care are urged to contact the DHS Child Care Resource and Referral Office at 1 800 462-8261, Monday – Friday, between 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Parents with children who attend the center and participate in the state's subsidy program should contact the Douglass Cherokee, the child care broker agency at 1 423-581-5454 for assistance in arranging other care.


Editor's Note: To request a copy of the entire summary suspension order, please call the DHS Communications Office
at (615) 313-4707.

# # #