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Citing claims of meth use, state revokes child care center’s license

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Citing claims of meth use, state revokes child care center’s license

Apr 02, 2024 | 2:40 pm ET
By Clark Kauffman
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Citing claims of meth use, state revokes child care center’s license
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The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services has revoked the child care license of Amanda's Child Care on Don Lee Court in Des Moines, citing allegations of methamphetamine use. (Photo via Google Earth; department logo courtesy of the State of Iowa)

A central Iowa child care provider is challenging a license revocation that’s based on alleged methamphetamine use in her home.

Amanda Lindsay of Des Moines is taking the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services to court in an effort to have a judge overturn the department’s decision revoking her child care provider’s license.

The case originated with a September 2022 complaint to DHHS alleging that Lindsay, who operates Amanda’s Child Care out of her home on Don Lee Court in Des Moines, was using methamphetamine while caring for children and that she was allowing others to use and sell meth out of the day care house while children were present.

State records indicate that on the same day DHHS received the complaint, it sent investigators to Lindsay’s home. Initially, the inspectors later alleged, Lindsay failed to come to the door, but did so after a phone call was made and someone on the premises was alerted to their presence. At the time, Lindsay was caring for a 7-month-old child.

Inspectors alleged that during their visit, Lindsay refused to give them access to a safe where the complainant had alleged drugs were being stored. According to the inspectors, Lindsay said she had lost the key and forgotten the combination.

According to the inspectors, Lindsay allegedly told them her cousin, while not authorized to be in the house, had “moved herself” in and then refused to leave – although Lindsay would later deny telling investigators that.

The inspectors alleged the cousin’s probation officer reported that Lindsay had contacted her for assistance in getting the cousin out of the house and said the cousin had claimed she and Lindsay had used meth in the house. The inspectors contacted the cousin, who allegedly told them Lindsay was sometimes absent from the house, leaving her with younger children who were being provided day care services.

Within days of the investigation being launched, DHHS notified Lindsay her license – technically referred to as a child care registration – was being revoked effective Oct. 4, 2022.

That decision was appealed, and last July, while still providing child care, Lindsay participated in a hearing that involved not only her license revocation but five separate child abuse assessments related to the allegations of meth in the house.

In a proposed decision upholding DHHS’ efforts to revoke Lindsay’s license, Administrative Law Judge Toby Gordon ruled last August that there was significant evidence to indicate the cousin was in the house as an unauthorized household member or caregiver, which was a violation of state regulations.

Gordon found that Lindsay admitted that her cousin was in her home over a period of months in the winter and spring of 2022, and he noted that the parents of one child also reported seeing the cousin in the house from time to time.

Gordon concluded Lindsay had allowed an unauthorized person to reside in the house and provide unauthorized, unsupervised care for a child. In his ruling, Gordon stated that in light of those of those findings, it wasn’t necessary for him to address DHHS’ parallel child-abuse findings that meth had been present in the house, creating a risk for any children there.

He also noted that in 2020, Lindsay’s self-described “best friend” was homeless and had moved into her house without permission until DHHS intervened. In light of that past situation, Gordon ruled, Lindsay was “undoubtedly aware that a violation could put her daycare registration at risk.”

Gordon’s proposed decision in the case was forwarded to DHHS Director Kelly Garcia. Seven months later, on March 8, Garcia adopted the findings and issued a final order revoking Lindsay’s license. That, in turn, led to Lindsay’s court petition last week seeking judicial review of Garcia’s decision. The state has yet to file a response to the petition.

Lindsay said Tuesday in an interview she doesn’t understand why DHHS is “taking the word of a known drug user” in revoking her license. “I can’t believe it has got to this point,” she said, adding that she has been providing day care for families for 22 years.

Because she’s no longer a state-registered child care provider, she can no longer accept children whose care is funded through government child care assistance programs. In addition, she said, the number of private-pay children she can care for is now capped at six. Previously, she said, she cared for eight to 12 children at a time, “and so this has cut my income in half.”

State records indicate that prior to the case involving Lindsay’s cousin, DHHS’ annual inspections of Amanda’s Child Care resulted in violations primarily related to safety provisions, such as the need for additional smoke detectors. On some occasions, Lindsay was reported to have taken an unusually long time to answer the door when state investigators arrived at the house.