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DHS order means day care's closure

By Randy Ellis Published: August 17, 2007
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Citing massive overcrowding, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services issued an emergency order Thursday directing Bernice Tyms to close her large family child care home in Lawton.

Responding to a complaint, licensing officials visited the home Aug.8 and reported finding 29 children — more than double its licensed capacity of 12. There were two caregivers at the house.

Monitoring officials revisited the home Aug. 16 and found 12 children, but only one caregiver.

"Tyms was not present in her home and was attending classes from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. each day, leaving an assistant caregiver to care for these children,” the emergency order states.

At least two caregivers must be present for a large family home to care for 12 children.

A lone caregiver cannot keep more than seven children, said George Johnson, DHS spokesman. The maximum ratio of children to caregivers varies with the ages of the children.

"Massive overcrowding is a health and safety issue,” Johnson said.

The order was issued late Thursday and was expected to be legally served on Tyms today, Johnson said.

Contacted Thursday evening, Tyms said she was busy and couldn't talk until later.