According to a DHR inspection report obtained by FOX10 News, the Community Nursery and Preschool Academy received 23 issues of noncompliance on August 23, just two days after 5-year-old Kamden Johnson was found dead on Demetropolis Road.
A staff member of the Community Nursery and Preschool Academy, Valarie Rena Patterson, was charged with manslaughter and abuse of a corpse in connection to little Kamden's death.
The Academy is a religious-exempt day care, meaning it is not subject to any state regulations, or licensing requirements. However, it does receive federal and state subsidies.
A fairly new federal law, recently put into action this summer, is requiring day cares that receive subsidies to be inspected by DHR.
So, DHR told FOX10 News that within the last couple of months, it has been making its rounds to hundreds of religious-exempt day cares, that receive subsidies, to do the newly required inspections.
The Community Nursery and Preschool Academy was one facility on the list.
The inspection report cites a variety of problems, including transportation safety hazards, like not enough seat belts in the day care van, booster seats not installed properly, or maintained well, no transportation check lists, and failure to conduct annual safety checks.
Other violations include, medicines and drugs not kept under lock and key, children to supervisor ratios not maintained, and, according to the inspection, the facility was also not free of apparent hazards.
"We've been noticing a lot of things that were kind of expected because there's been no regulation before of these centers," said DHR spokesperson, Barry Spear.
Spear said the facility was given 90 days since the inspection date to fix the violations.
If the issues are not addressed in that amount of time, Spear said DHR does not have the authority to shut the facility down, but it will have the authority to take away its federal funding.
"If there's issues that are severe enough, that can't be corrected immediately, then we will at least temporarily end their subsidy," said Spear.
FOX10 News received a written statement from the facility, which reads in full:
"The childcare safety act HB277 was passed on 4/20/2017, which now requires all childcare facilities receiving state or federal funds to be regulated by Alabama DHR and inspected annually. Prior to the incident on August 21 Community Nursery And Preschool Academy had already announced that all locations would be going Licensed and were diligently working towards doing so. Directors had begun taking classes necessary towards licensure as well as staff, which at the time included on staff was also Ms. Jasmine Johnson. Days after the incident Site 1 did undergo a visit and monitor from Alabama DHR, and at the time of visit the deficiencies that were reflected were noted and corrected within an expedited manner. A follow up visit was also completed on September 15, 2017 and the deficiencies that were in mention were marked as corrected with minimal corrections to attend to. All staff have had background checks completed, child abuse and neglect clearance completed, and the necessary training that is required by the Alabama DHR is currently in the process and is over 80% completed. It should also be noted that vehicle inspections were and still are completed on all vehicles that transport children including the mini van that was in use the day of the incident, and are now being kept on DHR approved documentation, as are other required records i.e. weekly transportation checklist. The deficiency that was noted regarding staff child ratio should also be specified in stating that the issue was not because there was not adequate staff on duty, rather all documentation that is required on file per staff was not available in DHR approved documentation, and has since also been corrected. The CEO, Pastor Carl Coker ensured that the vehicle with inoperable seatbelts was completely removed from the premises as well the mini van that was transporting Kamden, on the day of the incident is and will not be used any longer. Our entire church family and staff are deeply saddened by this tragic incident and we continue to pray for the families daily. Our prayer is that God will reveal all matters regarding this and justice will be served."
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