Troubled Shelbyville day care plans to reopen under new name

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Troubled daycare plans to reopen with new name
Shelbyville day care update

SHELBYVILLE, Ind. (WTHR) - A Shelbyville day care facility that had its license revoked because of health and safety violations is planning to reopen.

But 13 Investigates discovered that would be illegal.

Even with new management, the state says the center cannot care for children right now. It's not licensed.

When 13 Investigates knocked on the door of the facility in Shelbyville, Rebekah Wullenweber invited us in.

She says she's the new director of Creative Kids Child Care, a day care center planning to open Tuesday in the same space as the recently-shuttered Children Today Child Care.

"We just brought in completely new management," Wullenweber said. "So it's under a new license and everything."

Flyers on Facebook and placed around town are advertising a "licensed family daycare" and that parents can pay $25 to enroll right now.

Wullenweber says it's opening under a new name with new managers and that old problems have been fixed.

Children Today was cited by the state multiple times for critical health and safety violations, including chipped paint, dirty walls and a lack of background checks or drug tests on its child care workers.

"This room has actually been freshly painted," Wullenweber pointed out.

Eywitness News asked Wullenweber about background checks.

"That's what we're working on this week. I mean, when we came in (when it was still Children Today) it was like I wouldn't have wanted my dog to eat in here, let alone children. We've put about a month and half, two months of just cleaning and little things to finish."

But 13 investigates discovered despite the changes, this place is not licensed. Indiana's Family and Social Services Administration says it hasn't even tried to get a license. If Creative Kids starts caring for children right now, it would be illegal.

"We have received no application for a license for this facility and a child care center that is large and cares for multiple children must be licensed in order to operate," said Indiana FSSA spokesperson Marni Lemons. "That takes time, so I can tell you that it's not likely to happen."

Former employees, who initially reported issues with Children Today in December, are worried too.

"I did see the flyer and I was shocked," said Jennifer DeBaun. I went on the state website and I can't find that he's actually licensed. They said they're new management, but it's still the same owner. He wouldn't pay for my background check, so is he going to pay for all the management background checks, the drug testing that needs to be done?"

Wullenweber says the owner, Jeff Owen, is the same person who owned Children Today. She says he's just a landowner now and won't have control of operations. But Owen still has a pending probation appeal with the state on the old safety violations. FSSA says that needs to be handled first.

"And so we are trying to schedule a hearing on that and once that's resolved, we can talk about getting a new facility opened," Lemons said. She added that parents should never pay for an unlicensed day care facility, even with good intentions, from a new staff.

"Licensing means that the workers have passed background checks. It means that they have received training in important issues like safe sleep and CPR. We need an inspection, especially a facility like this one when we know there have been problems with the building in the past," Lemons said.

Wullenweber says children and safety are her priority, her passion. She says they'll work to make it right.

"If it comes to where we have to push off that opening date, then you know simply, that's what we have to do," Wullenweber said.

The FSSA plans to be in Shelbyville at the facility on or before Tuesday. Meanwhile, if you'd like to check on your child's day care or day cares in your area to check on licenses and any potential violations, click here.

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