By Christina Hager

BROOKLINE (CBS) – State officials had just put the owner of Brookline’s Strawberry Child Care on notice; the Department of Early Education and Care was planning to take legal action against its license to operate. That’s when the owner decided to shut its doors on her own.

“Five days notice during Christmas,” said David, a dad who asked us not to use his last name. “Three business days. That doesn’t fly.”

He’s now burning his vacation time to stay home with his baby, scrambling to find new daycare. “Not having childcare is, it’s everything,” he said. “It’s your job. If you can’t go to work, nothing works.”

Strawberry Child Care (WBZ-TV)

The news comes four months after the state shut down the chain’s Watertown location, saying staff failed to respond with CPR on a dying child. But according to the state, there were also violations at the Brookline Center in 2018.

State inspectors reported unsanitary equipment, bad hygiene, bad record keeping, a failure to check employees’ backgrounds. They also said the center had new children even after the state had prohibited new enrollments there.

Friday, the doors were locked at the Brookline center. An email directed parents to pick up their children’s belongings in cubbies out back. On December 20th, they got an email saying, “a kind reminder that tuition is due tomorrow.” Fifteen days later, another email said, “refunds cannot be made.”

Monica Ryan (WBZ-TV)

When WBZ’s I-Team tried to get answers from the owner of the Strawberry Child Care chain, Monica Ryan slammed the door.

“We should get our money back,” said David. “Services rendered. We paid in advance. You closed the door.”

The Department of Early Education and Care says it cannot force Monica Ryan to reimburse tuition. If EEC makes a final decision to revoke a child care program’s license, the licensee is barred for five years from reapplying for licensure.

Christina Hager

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