HAMMOND | The Indiana Bureau of Child Care has revoked a Hammond child care center's license after state inspectors documented 117 violations, state records show.
Most of the violations relate to problems with Northwest Family Services' building in Hammond — including lighting issues, lack of hot water, broken equipment and an unsafe playground, said Marni Lemons, deputy communications director for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration. The Bureau of Child Care is a division of the FSSA.
Northwest Family Services also was admonished to not engage in "cruel, harsh, unusual, humiliating or frightening methods of discipline, including threatening the use of physical punishment," state records show. Lemons said a violation under that section may include yelling at children or withholding food from them as a form of discipline.
The facility's employees also were reminded to keep poisons, chemicals and any item that says it is fatal if swallowed in locked storage away from children, state records show.
Lemons said state inspectors have visited the Northwest Family Services facility five times since September and consistently found the same violations. Lemons said the violations are concerning but do not rise to the level of criminal behavior.
The Bureau of Child Care has validated eight complaints against Northwest Family Services since April 2011, state records show. Those complaints ranged from having an inoperable telephone to failure to notify parents when more than one child at the facility had been diagnosed with a communicable disease.
Indiana officials revoked Northwest Family Services' license March 20 without a cease and desist order, meaning the facility can continue to operate. It can have up to 220 children, state records show.
David Armistead, executive director of Northwest Family Services, said children in the facility were "absolutely not" ever in danger. He said the agency is continuing to operate.
"We are moving toward the resolution of the deficiencies that were noted in an inspection," Armistead said. "We continue to work with the state and will do so until this matter is resolved."
Lemons said Northwest Family Services has until April 20 to appeal the license revocation.
She said none of the facility's violations indicated any imminent danger. If a subsequent inspection revealed such a situation, the Bureau of Child Care would issue an immediate order to cease and desist and would report it to the Indiana Department of Child Services, Lemons added.