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ND daycare licenses suspended due to ‘systemic leadership issue’

Published: Apr. 11, 2022 at 8:55 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - A chain of daycares has been served with a revocation of their licenses to provide early childhood services after state investigators found systemic leadership issues with the owner, as well as neglect.

Three Fargo centers including Creative Strides at The Learning Circle, Here We Grow at The Learning Circle, Little Learners, as well as The Learning Circle in Jamestown and The Learning Circle in Hillsboro were all given a license revocation notice on April 6, officials say, and have 10 days to appeal the notice. Officials say because of that 10-day notice, The Learning Circle centers still have a license.

Documents obtained by Valley News Live Monday state on December 29, 2021, an ‘Intent to Revoke Notice’ was issued for the child care centers owned and operated by Bridget McGuire, which were the five Learning Circle locations. McGuire was given the opportunity to show the North Dakota Department of Human Services her ability to provide care at each of the childcare locations and she later provided several documents to the state including staff training checklists, a staff handbook, daily checklists for transportation and emergency door checks for The Learning Circle Programs.

On March 9th and 10th, officials conducted on-site visits at Creative Strides, Little Learners and Here We Grow to determine if the documents and checklists McGuire provided to the department were put into practice.

“During these visits it was found that emergency doors were blocked with ice and snow, an emergency door unable to be locked and an emergency door alarm was not working. The staff person told us that the alarm needed a battery, but she has not had time to purchase batteries,” documents stated.

The inspection found additional violations at the Creative Strides and Little Learners locations including insufficient child-staff ratios, uncovered electrical outlets and an adult scissors in reach of the children. Documents say McGuire also failed to submit to the department a background check prior to the first day of employment for a staff member at one of the centers.

Documents obtained by Valley News Live show ratios were continuously a problem for the centers as reports date back to 2018, as well as a 2020 report of two children who were left outside unsupervised for an unknown amount of time which prompted Fargo Police to be called.

State officials say they soon determined McGuire ‘is unable to provide care that is free of abuse and neglect.’ Officials say this is the first revocation the daycare centers have ever received.

In a Facebook post, The Learning Circle stated Hayden Patterson is in the process of becoming the new license holder for the centers, which state officials confirmed. Officials say Patterson has applied as the new owner/operator of The Learning Circle Programs, and once all required paperwork is submitted, his applications will be reviewed. It’s unclear as of this publication how long that process could take.

The Department of Human Services says if McGuire chooses not to appeal the revocation, and the department has not received the required paperwork and the licensing visits for Patterson are not complete by April 16, all five programs will need to close.

Valley News Live reached out to The Learning Circle and Patterson for comment, but has not received a response as of this publication.

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