COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Colorado Springs Police are reporting they were executing a welfare check at a Colorado Springs day care, leading them to the owner's house where they found a "false wall" and 26 children in the basement. All of the kids found were younger than three.
Authorities were conducting the welfare check at Play Mountain Place on Wednesday. They had received multiple complaints that the facility was housing more children in their care than their license permitted. Play Mountain Place is located along Willamette Avenue off N. Institute Street just west of the U.S. Olympic Training Center.
When officers arrived to the day care facility, 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 three-years-old. Officers immediately began working with [The Colorado Department of Human Services] to release the children back to their parents."
The owner, Carla Faith, was not arrested. Police are reporting detective 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."
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.”