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The Minnesota Department of Human Services has suspended operations of the Arena Early Learning Center in Brooklyn Center, effective Feb. 1. The center was licensed to provide both day and night child care for up to 88 infants, toddlers, pre-school and school-age children. The DHS Licensing Division action – known as a temporary immediate suspension – is the most serious licensing sanction that can be taken against a child care center. Unlike other sanctions, this suspension takes effect immediately, with the appeal being heard after the center is closed.
The center has been operating under appeal of a revocation order that was based on numerous and serious violations as well as the disqualification of the license holder under the state’s background study law. The center has had numerous subsequent licensing violations, and the department is currently investigating additional reports of alleged serious licensing violations.
While information about the current investigation cannot be released, the department has determined that there is an imminent risk of harm to children at the child care center. The findings of the current investigation will become public at the conclusion of the investigation.
“We have issued numerous fines, correction orders and previous conditional licenses to this facility in hopes that it would come into compliance with licensing requirements,” said the department’s Inspector General Jerry Kerber. “According to the law, they were permitted to continue operating pending their appeal hearing, however, once we determined imminent risk to children, we were required to issue the immediate suspension. We cannot tolerate harm or potential harm to children in our licensed facilities.”
This is only the third such action the department has issued in over 10 years to a child care center in Minnesota. Arena Early Learning Center has been licensed since 2004.
In an appeal, the license holder has the right to an expedited contested case hearing conducted by the Office of Administrative Hearings.
“Where children are placed in imminent risk of harm we must – and will – act quickly to protect them,” said DHS Commissioner Lucinda Jesson.
Parents who need to find new child care arrangements may call Think Small, the resource and referral agency formerly known as Resources for Child Caring, at www.thinksmall.org or (651) 641-0332.
DHS, in cooperation with counties, licenses approximately 24,000 service providers and monitors and investigates their compliance with Minnesota laws and rules. The purpose of licensing is to protect the health, safety and rights of those receiving services by requiring that providers meet minimum standards of care and physical environment. Currently, 1,583 child care centers are licensed in Minnesota.
More information about this child care center and its violations is on the department’s Licensing Lookup.