(PONCHA SPRINGS, Colo.) — Two people have been served charges after a childcare facility was shut down in Poncha Springs on Tuesday, Jan. 24 following a complaint with the Department of Human Services (DHS) over lack of supervision.
The Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) announced the closure on Tuesday after deputies and employees with DHS responded to The Schoolhouse, which is part of the Chaffee County Child Care Initiative in Poncha Springs, about 24 miles south of Buena Vista.
According to an update posted to the CCSO Facebook page, the Sheriff’s Office and Chaffee County DHS have completed initial interviews with staff and parents/guardians who have children enrolled at The Schoolhouse.
As a result of those interviews, CCSO said two people are facing criminal charges for Failure to Report Child Abuse or Neglect, and for “knowingly placing a child in a situation that poses a threat of injury.”
45-year-old Roberta Rodriguez of Buena Vista and 40-year-old Amy Lovato of Salida were served the charges on Thursday, Jan. 26, both of which are classified as Class 2 Misdemeanor offenses.
“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,” said 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.”
CCSO said actions may also be taken by the Colorado Department of Early Childhood (CDEC), which oversees the licensure of childcare facilities across Colorado, depending on the outcome of the DHS and CCSO preliminary investigation.
CCSO added that The Schoolhouse facility’s license to operate was temporarily suspended by the CDEC beginning on Jan. 25, and it will remain closed until further notice, pending the final outcome of the investigations and any measures required to address compliance with childcare licensing regulations.
CCSO said 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.
The Chaffee Childcare Initiative Board of Directors issued a statement in response to the charges against Rodriguez and Lovato, which you can read in its entirety below:
“We are dismayed to share that two very valued members of our staff were served with charges today by the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office. We stand by both CCI Executive Director Amy Lovato and The Schoolhouse Site Director Roberta Rodriguez who have shown only care and compassion toward the children who attend The Schoolhouse during their tenures serving our organization and our community. CCI will continue to support Amy and Roberta through this process and are eager for their opportunity to share the true facts of the situation through the judicial process. We look forward to them both being cleared of all charges.”Chaffee Childcare Initiative Board of Directors