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2nd release of info on Childcare Initiative

26
Jan

Chaffee County Sheriff Office
Sheriff John Spezze

MEDIA RELEASE: 26 January 2023

 

Chaffee Childcare Initiative “The Schoolhouse” Investigation Update

 

SALIDA, COLO – Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office is continuing the processes related to investigations of The Schoolhouse, a childcare facility operated by Chaffee Childcare Initiative located in Poncha Springs. Chaffee County Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Child Protective Services division and the state’s Childcare Licensing office within the Colorado Department of Early Childhood (CDEC) are also assisting with the process, in keeping with standard agency coordination.

“The Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office joined the Chaffee County Department of Human Services in a joint investigation based on the scope of the allegations” shared Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze. “We take every allegation of this nature with the utmost seriousness and concern. Every Child’s safety is always our number one priority.”

The Sheriff’s Office and Chaffee County Department of Human Services have completed initial interviews with staff and with parents/guardians who have child(ren) enrolled at The Schoolhouse. As a result, criminal charges have been filed against two staff members of The Schoolhouse under Colorado Revised Statutes (CRS) § 19-3-304 for failure to report child abuse or neglect; and for knowingly placing a child in a situation that poses a threat of injury under CRS § 18-6-401. Both Roberta Rodriguez, 45, of Buena Vista and Amy Lovato, 40, of Salida were served these charges on January 26, 2023. Both charges are classified as Class 2 misdemeanor offenses.

The CDEC, who oversees licensure of childcare facilities across Colorado, will also take any actions as needed related to the outcome of the DHS and SO’s preliminary investigation and findings and their own assessments. Their state-level childcare licensing oversight of the facility is separate from the Sheriff Office investigation and criminal charges against individuals.

The Schoolhouse facility’s license to operate was temporarily suspended by the CDEC beginning on January 25 at the initiation of the investigation by Chaffee DHS and Sheriff’s Office. The facility will remain closed until further notice, pending the final outcome of the investigations and any measures required to address compliance with childcare licensing regulations.

 

The CDEC will be working with families who have been affected by the loss of childcare to evaluate alternative local childcare options during the period when The Schoolhouse’s license is suspended.

All persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty through due process.