Former Noble home child care operator disputes DHS findings

A former Noble home child care operator claims state licensing officials exaggerated problem conditions in her home Friday when they ordered her business immediately closed.
BY RANDY ELLIS Modified: August 26, 2010 at 9:22 am •  Published: August 26, 2010

NOBLE — "It wasn't a butcher knife ... It was a little paring knife," said Tammy O'Dell, a former Noble home child care operator.

O'Dell claims state Department of Human Services officials mischaracterized the type of knife and other conditions in her home that were listed in an emergency closure order issued Friday.

DHS ordered O'Dell to immediately shut down the Tammy O'Dell Family Child Care Home after a 2-year-old boy in her care was reported to be wandering in her front yard without supervision.

The closure order states that police who entered the home "observed a butcher knife and an unlocked gun cabinet accessible to children."

O'Dell said they were not accessible to children.

She said the knife had been pushed back beside the television on her entertainment center and was several inches above the eye level of the oldest child she was being paid to watch.

As for the gun cabinet, she said it was latched at the top and kept in a bedroom. The bedroom door was held closed by another latch, she said.

Noble Police Chief Keith Springstead said his officer described the knife as being like a steak knife.

Springstead said he views O'Dell's complaints as an attempt to deflect attention away from the main issue.

"She needs to respond to why these children were left alone and unsupervised," he said.

O'Dell said she had taken her 17-year-old child to the doctor. O'Dell said she knocked on her 18-year-old daughter's door and told her she was being left in charge, but her daughter apparently fell back to sleep.

The 2-year-old's mother was "totally understanding," O'Dell said.

O'Dell claims she wasn't operating a home child care business, even though she was being paid to provide care for the two children.

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