Owners of shuttered daycares appeal enforced closures

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VALDOSTA –  The owners of a pair of Valdosta daycare centers shuttered by the state this week are appealing the enforced closures.

Pamela Carter and Brent Carter, owners of Tickle Me Pink Daycare and Learning Center and Tickle Me Pink Academy, want emergency closure orders against the facilities lifted; a hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday in Atlanta at the Office of State Administrative Hearings, said Reg Griffin, spokesman for the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, which ordered the shutdowns. 

They had 48 hours to appeal the closures before an administrative law judge, he said.

Police said an incident occurred Jan. 14 at the Tickle Me Pink Daycare and Learning Center, 252 North St. Augustine Road, involving a daycare worker and a two-year-old child and was not reported to authorities until two weeks later. The former employee was accused of physically assaulting the two-year-old, and police said the daycare owners were told of the incident and failed to notify the child's parents or authorities.

Pamela Carter was charged with felony false statement, felony tampering with evidence and misdemeanor failure to report child abuse, while Brent Carter was charged with felony tampering with evidence and misdemeanor failure to report child abuse, police said. 

The daycare worker in question — Emmer Jean Thomas, 57, of Valdosta — was sent to the Lowndes County Jail after turning herself in at police headquarters Wednesday, according to a statement from the Valdosta Police Department. A warrant against her was for cruelty to children 1st degree, a felony.

Parents impacted by this closures can connect with child care resources at www.allgakids.org or by calling the toll-free number 1-877-ALL GA KIDS.  

Terry Richards is senior reporter at The Valdosta Daily Times.

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