The state Department of Public Welfare could shut down the York YMCA's child care center over allegations of child abuse and mistreatment.
The department, in a letter sent to YMCA President Larry Richardson, said it decided to revoke the center's first provisional certificate of compliance to operate the child care center at 90 N. Newberry Street because of failure to comply with state regulations, and due to gross incompetence and negligence in the operation of a child care program.
According to the letter signed by DPW Deputy Secretary Barbara Minzenberg, the provisional certificate of compliance covering May 16 to Nov. 16 was issued after an April 19 inspection found that a child was left unsupervised in the three- and four-year-old room for approximately 10 minutes when staff took the other children on a swimming excursion March 22 and did not count the children before they left.
The child was found by another staff member who saw the boy alone in his classroom, and the staff responsible for supervising the child did not know how many children were supposed to be in their group when they arrived in the locker room to change, the letter states.
The department later investigated three complaints of abuse and mistreatment at the facility, according to the letter.
On June 24, a DPW representative verified that a staff member yanked a child by the arm as a form of discipline, the letter states.
During another investigation July 31, a staff member was overheard screaming at a child to "shut up," and the child was singled out and made to stand for approximately nine minutes during nap time as punishment, according to the letter.
On Aug. 7, a DPW representative verified that a staff member used physical discipline on a child, resulting in the child needing medical treatment and the staff member being named as a perpetrator in an indicated report of child abuse, the letter states.
DPW spokeswoman Carey Miller said the YMCA has appealed the department's decision and has submitted a plan of correction.
"That plan is being reviewed and that will also entail a follow-up site visit to make sure they have made those corrections and so that we are able to ensure those children are safe who are attending the child care," Miller said.
Richardson issued a statement in which he said the YMCA has responded to the alleged violations, has requested an administrative hearing on the matter, and has cooperated fully with DPW's inquiry.
The center cannot operate without a certificate of compliance, but it will remain open during the appeal process.
"The YMCA had ‘self reported' the alleged incidents prior to the DPW notice in each case and had already engaged in corrective actions," Richardson said. "The YMCA's site at its York Branch is a nationally accredited childcare center, achieving the highest level of quality accreditation in the field of childcare services."
"The York YMCA self-reported the alleged incidents, self-addressed the alleged incidents, self-corrected the alleged incidents and will emerge with an even stronger childcare center," he said.