STATE REGISTRY AND ST. CHARLES PARISH LAW ENFORCEMENT IDENTIFY UNDERGROUND CHILD CARE OPERATION

Jul 17, 2015

Department of Education to Pursue Court Action against Individual Prohibited from Serving Children

BATON ROUGE, La. – A joint effort of the Louisiana Department of Education and the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office resulted in the discovery of an underground child care operation in St. Charles Parish.  The discovery comes after the Department launched its Registry of Individuals Prohibited from Operating Unlicensed Early Learning Centers and notified Louisiana’s sheriffs and police chiefs about these individuals and the court orders and injunctions filed against them.

On July 7, 2015, prompted by the Department’s letter notifying law enforcement of people on the registry, St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s deputies investigated Kristy Jones for possibly operating an unlicensed child care center in Norco. In February 2012, the Department of Children and Family Services found Jones operating without a license, caring for nine unrelated children. Prior to an April 2012 hearing, Jones agreed to and signed a court order halting her operation of her unlicensed child care facility.

When deputies arrived at Jones’s address in the injunction, they found she no longer lived there. Further investigation led them to a home on Barrecca Street in Norco. On July 8, deputies arrived at the home and knocked on the door at which time they could hear the voices and cries of several children which soon quieted down. According to deputies, they knocked on the door several times before Jones’s husband allowed them inside where they found Kristy Jones and 10 children huddled in the laundry room. Deputies say a total of 12 children, including two belonging to Jones, were being cared for inside the home.

The Department will make follow up visits to Jones’s home and intends to file a Motion for Contempt against Jones with the cooperation of the Sheriff’s deputies. Licensing staff will continue to visit Jones’s home periodically to ensure she doesn’t resume care for more than six unrelated children. Because violations of licensing regulations are not criminal offenses, law enforcement authorities cannot take action against the operator of the illegal child care.

"The underground child care program run by Kristy Jones is another example of an illegal business operating in the shadows. As a state, we must address this. We need criminal penalties in Louisiana for this kind of deceit and endangerment. Someone must pay the price for running illegal, underground child cares,” said State Superintendent John White. “The Department thanks Sheriff Greg Champagne and his office for their dedication to protecting the children of Louisiana.”

Jones is one of close to 50 individuals listed on the Department’s registry. The Department launched the registry last month with the intention of shining a spotlight on individuals who are forbidden by courts from operating an unlicensed child care center in Louisiana.

To see the names of individuals who are prohibited from operating an unlicensed child care, you can view the Department’s registry here.

If you know of, or have concerns about, a possible unlicensed child care in operation, please contact the Louisiana Department of Education’s Licensing Division at LDELicensing@la.gov or by calling 225-342-9905 or 1-877-453-2721.

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