(Photo by Anitra Wolf/DCN Staff)
"We will let them know, don't come back tomorrow," Roger Munns, Public Information director for the Iowa Department of Human Services said last Wednesday morning.
The closing occurred a week to the day after an incident where a five-year girl stopped breathing when she became tangled in a jump rope while going down a slide. The child was transported from the Milford childcare center by ambulance to Lakes Regional Hospital in Spirit Lake then later flown to Sioux Falls, where she was kept overnight for observation.
Last week, Dickinson County Attorney Rosalise Olson filed a petition for an injunction to close the daycare facility.
"It will be closed as of midnight tonight [Wednesday, June 17]," said Olson.
"The county attorney went to seek an injunction at our request," said Munns. "Notices will be given to the parents when they come to pick up children today (Wednesday)."
Munn also said that representatives from his department would be on hand to help assist parents in securing childcare options when they arrived at the daycare.
"It's going to be disruptive -- no doubt about that -- but you have to think of safety first," Munns said.
At the time of the jump rope incident, it was reported that the Apple Tree Daycare was serving 70 children. Munns said that number had dropped. "It's fewer than 30 now [on Wednesday, June 17]. Parents have been taking their children out quite frequently."
Despite the reported shortage in daycare slots available, Munns didn't seem to think finding suitable childcare for the remaining families would be a problem.
"There have been other closings across the state, and it's never come back to me that we can't find people somewhere else to place their child," he said.
The Iowa Department of Human Services says issues with Apple Tree Daycare have been brewing for nearly 15 months. Complaints also include a May 26 incident, when a 4-year-old boy wandered from the facility near traffic on Highway 71, along with a number of caregiver-to-child ratio violations and a report of dog feces on the playground.
The Milford facility is owned and operated by Bobbi Feddersen.