January 18, 2000                                                                                                      Patricia Harris Morehead at (615) 313-4707

DHS Suspends Child Care License of Nashville Head Start Center

NASHVILLE Earlier today, the Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS) suspended the license of a Nashville Head Start Center whose van driver reportedly did not follow state child care rules last week when he left a 4-year-old child at a group child care home that was closed. The incident happened on January 10.

Under a new zero-tolerance policy implemented by DHS in October, state officials have suspended the license and are initiating steps to revoke the license of Tom Joy Head Start, 1900 Lischey Avenue. The suspension means the center must close immediately and remain closed pending a decision by a hearing officer at a "show-cause" hearing. That hearing has been scheduled for January 21, 2000 at 9 a.m.

If the department's decision is upheld, the center must remain closed pending a hearing on the revocation by the Child Care Review Board. If a hearing officer at the "show cause" hearing reverses the suspension, the department still can proceed with revocation.

"We consider these incidents to be extremely serious. Activities by providers or their staffs that jeopardize the health and safety of children are unacceptable and will not be tolerated. We will continue to use all available enforcement tools to ensure that children are in safe and healthy child care settings," state Human Services Commissioner Natasha Metcalf said.

According to DHS, the Tom Joy Head Start Center is licensed to care for 270 children and has been licensed by DHS since February 1994. The center's annual license was re-issued in May of 1999. Approximately 15 of the children participate in the state's child care subsidy program. The local child care broker agency, Metro Social Services, will assist these children and their parents with finding child care.

Other parents who need assistance finding child care are urged to contact the DHS Child Care Resource and Referral Office at 313-4820 (Nashville Area).

If families participate in the state's child care subsidy program, they should contact Metro Social Services at (615) 880-2300 for assistance with transferring their certificate.

Individuals are encouraged to report suspected licensing violations to the local DHS child care licensing staff. Other concerns about child care services or issues should be reported to the local child care ombudsman for each district.

Editor's Note: Attached is a copy of summary suspension order.