Some parents knew Georgetown children center operated illegally - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Some parents knew Georgetown center operated illegally

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Judith Snow Judith Snow

Investigators are looking into allegations that the Georgetown Children's Fitness Center was operating illegally as an unlicensed child care provider.

Investigators say Kimberly Emerson and Erica McKinney, who also goes by Erica Hayward, operated the Georgetown Children's Fitness Center, even after they ordered them to shut down.

It is an open investigation being conducted by the Department of Early Childcare and Learning, the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services and the Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Department Special Victims Unit.

Investigators say in order for a child care center to obtain a license, they must pass 12 key areas. If there is a serious violation, like in the case of the Georgetown center, it will be closed. Inspections are done twice a year and visits are documented and posted on the DECAL website. DECAL officials say it's important that parents make sure their child care program is licensed in Georgia, and ask several key questions.

"First question, are they are a licensed program?" said DECAL Chief Communications Officer Reg Griffin. "That would answer a lot. We encourage parents to request a tour of the child care center and a personal meeting with owner provider. Treat it as an interview for a future employee."

DECAL even suggest doing pop in visits during a time the center doesn't expect it and ask for a tour to see what is going on.

Judith Snow says she was told Georgetown Children's Fitness Center's license was suspended, but since other parents were still using the center she felt safe.

Snow says they initially told her it was a licensed daycare, but later said their license was suspended and since her son Harry was already on the roster, he would be okay.

Snow says the daycare seemed overcrowded with children, but since childcare is so expensive and this one was the most affordable in the area, she chose to use it.

"It was affordable," said Snow. "They gave me the convenience of dropping him off when I wanted to. I didn't have to go every day. It worked on my schedule."

According to a report by Child Care Aware America, Georgia ranks among the top ten least expensive states for child care.

Infant care actually costs almost $1,000 more than sending your child to a four year public college.

DECAL says in Georgia the number of operating child care centers has decreased and they believe it's because of rising costs and unemployment causing parents to keep their kids at home.

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