TOPEKA – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment last Wednesday suspended the licence for Schloemer Day Care Home, a licensed day care facility operated by Annette Schloemer located at 1027 Garfield, Great Bend.
However, Schloemer said, “I am going to fight this.” She said most of the violations cited in the KDHE’s suspension order came from situations that were taken out of context and blown out of proportion.
Barton County Health Department and KDHE child care surveyors conducted an annual inspection of Schloemer’s day care home on Aug. 2. “A qualified primary care provider at least 18 years of age was not supervising children in care,” a KDHE report reads.
Instead, the inspectors said they found a 15-year-old present with seven children ages 3 months to school age. Three of the children (3 months, 2 years, and 6 years of age) were foster children in placement with Schloemer under her family foster home license.
“The day care was closed for that week,” Schloemer said. Yes, there were children in the home, but the parents of the children had made arrangements with the 15-year-old to babysit their kids at the Garfield house.
“The licensee (Schloemer) was on vacation out of state,” the report reads. “The 15-year-old and a parent of a child in care confirmed the 15-year-old was hired to provide care for the week of Aug. 1-5.”
“I never hired her,” Schloemer said of the sitter. Again, it was a separate arrangement.
She said the facility was closed for a week, but she was only going to be out of town for two days. She notified the parents they had to find alternative child-care.
In addition, the KDHE noted, “the home was not being maintained for the health and safety of children in care.” The inspectors said they found: An infant napping on the floor among preschool and school age children lifting hand weights; dog feces and dog food were observed on floors in the home; trash cans were overflowing, electrical outlets were uncovered, a curling iron was plugged in and accessible in the bathroom, the bathroom tub was filled with trash and papers and had a strong mildew smell, and dirty dishes were piled in the sink.
An infant was napping, but the weights were just being moved out of the way, and were nowhere near the baby, Schloemer said. The family’s small dog had been in the house while Schloemers were away and did make a small mess in a back bedroom not used by the children, and some dog food was spilled when a dish was bumped. Had the sitter known about these, she would have cleaned them up immediately.
The trash cans were full, but it was only paper. “There was no food and there were no bugs,” Schloemer said.
The curling iron was turned off and tucked into a drawer and the only items in the tub (which wasn’t even used for bathing) were tiles used in remodeling the bathroom. “It was used for storage. There was no mildew smell.”
As for the sink, Schloemer said one side was filled with breakfast dishes from that morning. The inspection took place at 9:30 a.m.
The inspectors said they also found dangerous chemicals were in the garage accessible to children and standing water in the wading pool was accessible to children in the outdoor play area. No files for children or adults were provided to surveyors to review.
The door to the garage, Schloemer said, was latched so that the children could not open it. There was water in the pool, but the kids were not playing outside and, even so, were told not to go near the pool.
The report said the 15-year-old did not know the location of emergency medical release forms, records that contained contact information for parents and documentation of persons authorized to pick up children. Schloemer said since the day care was closed, it was not necessary to have the records on hand. The sitter knew the phone number of Schloemer and her daughter.
After the inspection, Schloemer contacted the surveyor by telephone and informed them the parents were contacted and the children were picked up. “However, the surveyor found that the same seven children were moved to the family foster home located at 314 N. Washington, Great Bend, Kansas, which is not licensed for day care. The 15 year old substitute continued to provide care.”
Again, Schloemer said the parents had made arrangements for this to happen. Of the seven children that were being watched on Garfield, six were being watched at the Schloemer home. The remainder were Schloemer’s foster children, which she said are not covered by a different set of KDHE guidelines.
Schloemer said one of the parents was told by KDHE that it was OK for the sitter to watch their child at the Schloemer house.
Schloemer said the surveyors just walked into her home. Via telephone, she told them to leave or she would contact law enforcement.
They told her the children were in danger. But, Schloemer said the children were asleep.
“I don’t get it,” she said, questioning the KDHE’s tactics. “They try to be intimidating.
“I’ve touched kids’ hearts,” Schloemer said, tears coming to her eyes. “I’ve been doing this for 16 years.”
Schloemer said she rarely has an opening and most children stay with her until they are too old to do so.
“I don’t want my licence back,” she said, adding she wants to fight the suspension on principle. “I just want to prove my point.”
She fears that if she were to go into the business again, KDHE would be breathing down her neck. “I never want to give them a chance to slam my name again.”
According to the KDHE, a license to operate a day care home was issued to Schloemer effective July 21, 1995.
State law allows the secretary of KDHE to issue such an order when, in the opinion of the secretary, the order is necessary to protect children in the home from any potential threat to health or safety.