State inspections show disturbing history of problems at local daycare


by Adam Walser

Posted on December 10, 2009 at 7:24 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 10 at 7:34 PM

(WHAS11) - WHAS 11 News has uncovered more disturbing information about the operation of a local day care center.

It's the same daycare where a child was rushed to the hospital and later died.

No charges have been filed in that case.

WHAS11 News has learned that the state has looked into drug use among staff members in the past and there are claims of abuse after a child reported being choked by a staff member.

Police say the homicide investigation will likely take a while.

They know 16-month-old  Antoine Dixon died as a result of homicide, but they still don't know who's responsible.

WHAS11 News has also been investigating, and we've discovered troubling new information about Little People's Child Care.

A three-inch-thick stack of 112 documents from the state outlines dozens of complaints, safety issues and health concerns involving

Little People's Child Care Center during the past 18 months.

The center's director, Monte Barnett, says surveillance video shows that Antoine Dixon wasn't hurt at the center.

“I feel confident with all the video footage by now that in reviewing that the daycare can be excluded as well as my employees of any wrongdoing,” said Barnett.

The center has not been named as a suspect in Antoine’s death, but it has been cited for plenty of problems in the past.

Little People's is owned by brothers Monte Barnett, Christopher Wells and Brian Wells.

Both Brian and Christopher have extensive criminal histories, including drug convictions for Christopher, who drives the center's bus.

State investigators looked into allegations of drug use among staff members in June 2008.

During an interview, a staff member told inspectors that “the staff in charge appeared to be under the influence of illegal drugs”.

During that visit, the inspector found twelve 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds in the hallway with no staff present.

Investigators were back at Little People's Child Care the next month after a child reported that a staff member” choked him around the neck on two occasions.”

The incident was not recorded “because the camera was unable to show that specific area of the room, due to camera positioning.”

Attorney Will Driscoll represents a parent who says her child was injured at the daycare in October.
“He couldn't put his coat on. He was holding his arm and she took him to the immediate care center where he was diagnosed to have a dislocated elbow,” said Driscoll.

Driscoll says the center didn't call the parent or get medical help for the child, who suffered the injury six hours before being picked up.

“They reviewed the surveillance videotape and it showed a daycare worker taking her son to another room that's not on camera to get his diaper changed. When he came back he was crying and holding his arm,” said Driscoll.

In addition to the police investigation, Little People's Child Care center is also under investigation by the state for failing to report the incident involving Antoine in a timely manner.

The center is licensed to care for up to 177 children and participates in the Kentucky Child Care Assistance Program, funded by tax dollars.