COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Click here to read documents provided to 11 News by the Colorado Department of Human Services. The documents include Carla Faith's applications and complaints against her.
A day care in Colorado Springs is under investigation for reportedly housing too many children in a nearby home in the basement.
State officials have confirmed with 11 News that the operator of the four child care facilities in Colorado Springs that were shut down this month got into similar trouble in California years earlier.
The Colorado Department of Human Services says they ran a background check on the owner, Carla Faith, through FBI and CBI but nothing came up. But state records in California show several of Faith's facilities there were raided by law enforcement in the late 90s. Investigators there shut down the child care homes after allegations Faith was caring for more kids than her state license allowed. Click to read the 1998 report by the LA Times.
A spokesperson for Colorado's DHS tells 11 News applicants do not have to provide any information about their license history in other states when applying for a child care license in Colorado. There are no questions about previous care in other states.
Faith ran into trouble again last week when Springs police officers executed a welfare check at one of her local day cares, which led them to Faith's house where they found a "false wall" and 26 children in the basement. All of the kids found were younger than 3.
Authorities say they had received multiple complaints that Faith's facility Play Mountain Place was housing more children in their care than their license permitted. Play Mountain Place is located along Willamette Avenue off North Institute Street just west of the U.S. Olympic Training Center.
When officers arrived at the day care facility on Nov. 13, there were no children inside. Officers tried to contact the owner at her residence, which is on the same property as the day care facility.
"The owner, identified as 58-year-old Carla Faith, refused to cooperate with officers; however, officers could hear the noises of children coming from her home," Lt. James Sokolik with the Colorado Springs Police Department wrote in a release. "During their investigation, officers found a false wall that led to the home’s basement. When officers walked down the stairs, they located two adults and 26 kids inside a finished basement, all of who were under the age of 3 years old. Officers immediately began working with [The Colorado Department of Human Services] to release the children back to their parents."
Faith was not arrested. Police say detectives plan to pursue "appropriate" charges. Police did add three adult workers at the daycare were originally arrested for misdemeanor child abuse relating to neglect; however, those charges were canceled pending more investigation by detectives.
Police worked alongside the Colorado Department of Human Services in this investigation. The Crimes Against Children Unit for the Colorado Springs Police Department took over the criminal part of the investigation while licensing matters are being handled by the state DHS. A spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Human Services told 11 News a legal team supressed all records for the day care off their website. The department is suspending the facility's licensing status.
11 News spoke to multiple parents who now have to search for a new caretaker. Several people heard the news through friends.
"I just have this horrible feeling in my stomach, in the pit of my stomach," one parent told 11 News. "I’m really hoping nothing more nefarious has been going on and that, in fact, it is an overcrowding issue which is bad enough as it is. I wouldn’t have brought him there knowing that."
Others are hoping the licensing issue is a quick fix for the owner.
"Excellent facility," one mother stated. "But I’m not sure what’s going on right now. Hopefully, they can just get it fixed so we can get our kids started over again."
A woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, reached out to 11 News describing the moment she walked into the basement of Faith's home to pick up her child.
"I am a parent of one of the children who was found to be hidden in the basement of Play Mountain Place yesterday afternoon," the mother wrote. "I was one of the first two parents who were on the scene and would never have believed the state of things if I had not seen it with my own eyes. Prior to yesterday, my experience had always been dropping off and picking up my child in a clean, pristine, and loving environment. Yesterday, I picked my child up from a small, dingy room in a basement that I had never before seen where 26 children were crowded together amidst empty juice box containers, graham cracker crumbs, and various children's blankets and lovies. The room smelled of unchanged diapers and several of the kids were crying- everything was the exact antithesis of everything I had been led to believe my child was experiencing during the days they spent at Play Mountain. My immediate hope was that this was a one-time thing, but in the corner of the basement there were cubbies with children's names on them holding diapers, including my own child's, leading me to believe this is a place they had regularly spent time. This was nothing at all like the level of care I had been led to believe my child was receiving, and the amount of deceit that took place to convince parents otherwise is completely mind-blowing. To say I am shocked, overwhelmed, and feeling utterly betrayed is an understatement as prior to yesterday I had nothing but rave reviews for this place and the caregivers."
11 News partner The Gazette also spoke with a parent who witnessed the basement. Betsy Murphy, whose 2-year-old son attended Play Mountain Place, received a text from Faith to pick up her son. Murphy met with a DHS caseworker and an officer who showed her the narrow staircase.
Murphy told the Gazette she would hear her son tell his teachers he loved them before leaving each day, and he often spoke fondly of them on the weekends. But she started to worry after her son became more “clingy” in the last week and crying on his way to day care.
“Don’t take me to the little house. Don’t take me downstairs,” Murphy's son pleaded to her, according to The gazette. At the time, Murphy was unsure of what her son was talking about, only aware of a center behind Faith’s home, which she recounted as “wonderful.”
11 News has reached out multiple times to Faith for comment and we have yet to hear back.
CDHS says they are always working to improve how states share information.
Deputy Director of Communications Madlynn Ruble provided the following statement:
"The Department will be working with the Colorado State Board of Human Services to promulgate rules requiring out-of-state abuse and neglect checks to comply with the Federal Child Care and Development Block Grant Act (CCDBG) of 2014. The rule will require individuals to complete these out-of-state checks for any state where the individual resided in the previous five years."
Colorado Springs Police shared the following information:
"All complaints are taken seriously and reviewed by a licensing professional; if you have concerns about a child care program or if you see something concerning, call the childcare complaint line at 1-800-799-5876. If you suspect child abuse or neglect, call the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-844-CO-4-KIDS (1-844-264-5437). Anyone witnessing a child in a life-threatening situation should call 911 immediately. Families can search for licensed, quality childcare online at ColoradoShines.com/search. Families may also call the Child Care Referral at Mile High United Way at 1-877-338-2273 or text ‘childcare referral’ to 898-211 to find quality care and learn more about the availability of care. Colorado Shines has information on each program including quality rating licensing history and monitoring reports. Licensed childcare is the best, safest option for children.”