Twenty-six children and two adults were found behind a false wall in a basement after complaints of a day care housing more children than licensing allowed.
Police made the discovery while conducting a welfare check on Play Mountain Place on November 13 in Colorado Springs after the Department of Human Services (DHS) requested them to do so earlier that day.
“[We were] contacted to conduct a welfare check of the children in care,” Colorado Springs Police Department said in a statement.
When officers arrived at the scene, there were no children at the facility.
The owner of the day care has been identified as 58-year-old Carla Faith who resides on the same property.
Police attempted to contact Ms Faith and upon their arrival she refused to cooperate.
Despite not seeing any children on the property, officers could hear “the noises of children” coming from Faith’s home.
The officers happened upon a false wall during their investigation, which lead to the home’s basement.
Walking down the stairs, police found two adults and 26 children all under the age of three in the basement, according to police.
Ms Faith was only licensed to care for six children at the facility, The Gazette reported.
Police say three adults who worked at Play Mountain Place were arrested for misdemeanour child abuse relating to neglect, but the charges were dropped, pending further investigation.
Detectives are pursuing appropriate charges for Ms Faith who was not arrested at the scene, according to police.
A mother who spoke to KKTV 11 on the condition on anonymity detailed the moment she picked up her child from the basement.
The mother explained she was one of the first on the scene after parents were told to come and collect their children as soon as possible.
She said her experience of the day care had been “clean, pristine, and loving environment”, prior to the news of her child being housed in a basement.
“I picked my child up from a small, dingy room in a basement that I had never before seen where 26 children were crowded together amidst empty juice box containers, Graham cracker crumbs and various children's blankets,” the mother told KKTV 11.
“The room smelled of unchanged diapers and several of the kids were crying. Everything was the exact antithesis of everything I had been led to believe my child was experiencing during the days they spent at Play Mountain.”
The mother told the news station she hoped this was “one-time thing”, but in the corner of the basement she saw cubbies with the children’s names on them, including her own child’s, which lead her to believe the children regularly spent time in the basement.
She said she was “shocked, overwhelmed, and feeling utterly betrayed” and this was an understatement of how she felt.
Colorado Spring Police confirmed the Crimes Against Children unit attached to the department would assume the responsibility for the criminal part of the investigation, while DHS will deal with licensing matters.
Police have already suspended the license for the day care and DHS is investigating other day care facilities owned by Ms Faith.
“DHS is currently investigating other licensed facilities belonging to Carla Faith in Colorado Springs,” police said.
“The Colorado Springs Police Department will assist, if requested by DHS, to investigate criminal statutes relating to their cases.”
According to The Gazette, this isn’t the first time day care centres owned by Ms Faith have been shut down.
In 1998 one facility was found to have 44 children in her care and she was in the process applying for licences at the time.
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