Owner of Quality Kids Care Center in Rochester reaches settlement with MN DHS
(ABC 6 News) – There’s good news this week for a child care center that has been fighting to keep it’s state funding for months.
Quality Kids Care Center, lost its state funding for family scholarships back in July as the DHS claimed owner Warda Salah, had committed fraud. The care center reached a settlement with the Minnesota Department of Human Services on Tuesday, allowing for their doors to reopen this week.
The last three and a half months have been a stressful process for families and staff of Quality Kids, and they’re very happy for this return to normalcy following a clerical error that caused the care center to shut down for some time this summer. On Thursday, employees, families, and kids at quality kids care center began their return to normalcy.
“We didn’t know how long this would continue to drag out. It was a huge relief, because this has been going on for so long. And just getting that it was like an answered prayer,” said Helen White, Director at Quality Kids Care Center.
One parent has described it as the only place in town where kids of color can feel comfortable in their own skin. And she was pleased to learn of this settlement.
“Having that culturally appropriate, culturally responsive care is really important and meaningful for families,” said State Senator for Rochester, Liz Boldon. “Knowing that it was a piece of the puzzle was a very important part of that story.”
The process to reaching the settlement came with outside help. When state senator Liz Boldon heard about Quality Kids situation, she extended her help by reaching out to DHS.
“My intent was not to get into the details but more about the process, balancing that sort of process of if there are questions we need to get to the bottom of those questions and balancing that of how we can support families,” Boldon said.
Following their CCAP funding being pulled by the DHS in late July, the majority of the 35 families who brought their kids there for daycare, had to stop. The loss of funding made many ineligible to bring their kids to the daycare. Only ten to fifteen kids stayed at the center over the last three months, but the White happy things are moving forward.
“We’re so thankful,” she exclaimed. “We’ve missed everybody, we really feel the emptiness. And the kids that are here, they’re so excited to see their friends again.”
Six staff members, including White, still volunteered their time without pay to take care of these kids. But it also came with a toll.
“I did go to an evening job just to make ends meet for me because like, unemployment doesn’t pay enough. And it was really hard to not be home in the evenings with my son,” White said.
White has now returned to work at Quality Kids fulltime and has her evenings back with her son. Now with the settlement reached, White and the other employees are ready to welcome former families back to Quality Kids.
“We’re still pretty empty so we want to let the community know we have a lot of openings. We’re accepting CCAP and pathways scholarships.”
A representative for DHS provided a statement from the agency that reads.
“DHS cannot comment on any case until the case is closed and all appeal rights have been exhausted or expired. Unfortunately, DHS is unable to comment on any potential settlement related to this provider at this time.
We understand and are empathetic to the difficulties families face when finding a new child care provider, and we are grateful when collaborative resolutions allow families to continue with their current providers.”
Families can begin to contact Quality Kids on how they can reapply for financial aid.