Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze wrote Thursday that criminal charges have been filed against two staff members at Chaffee County Child Care Initiative’s The Schoolhouse.
Spezze identified Roberta Rodriguez, 45, of Buena Vista and Amy Lovato, 40, of Salida and said they would be charged with failure to report child abuse or neglect and knowingly placing a child in a situation that poses a threat of injury.
According to a press release, the sheriff’s office and Chaffee County Department of Human Services have completed initial interviews with staff and with parents and guardians who have children enrolled at The Schoolhouse.
As of Wednesday, The Schoolhouse license to operate has been temporarily suspended by the Colorado Department of Early Childhood at the initiation of the investigation by Chaffee DHS and the sheriff’s office.
The incident that led to investigation happened “last week,” Liz Ryan Sax, strategic communications consultant for the initiative, wrote.
Sax said The Schoolhouse became aware of a three-to-five-minute time period in one of the classrooms during which the teacher-to-child ratio was not met.
The initiative promptly self-reported the situation to the Department of Human Services and the Colorado Office of Early Childhood-Division of Early Care and Learning Licensing, Sax said.
“CCI as well as The Schoolhouse management and staff have always been, and will continue to be, ardently dedicated to the well-being, enrichment and safety of all the children in our care, a responsibility we take very seriously,” Sax said.
“We appreciate the quick response from DHS and the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office, and we look forward to a swift resolution to this situation. We are eager to welcome our community’s children and our staff back to The Schoolhouse in the near future.”
Spezze reported the closure of The Schoolhouse Tuesday by DHS and the sheriff, pending investigation.
Spezze said parents were contacted to make arrangements at that time to pick up their children.
The Schoolhouse will remain closed until further notice, pending the final outcome of the investigations and any measures required to address compliance with childcare licensing regulations.
Meanwhile, the Colorado Department of Early Childhood will work with families affected by the loss of childcare to evaluate alternative local childcare options.
“The Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office joined Chaffee County Department of Human Services in a joint investigation based on the scope of the allegations,” Spezze said. “We take every allegation of this nature with the utmost seriousness and concern. Every child’s safety is always our No. 1 priority.”
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