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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

"I didn't have a day care. I had shut mine down previously from harassment from DHS," she said. "The only children I kept were family members, which is not against the law."

O'Dell contends the children are related to her somehow, but says she doesn't know her family tree well enough to know the exact relationship.

Lauri Monetti, spokeswoman for DHS, acknowledged that the definition of family members who are exempt from child care licensing regulations is vague.

"We define family as somebody who is related by blood, marriage or adoption," she said. "That would include cousins and second cousins ... It includes extended family."

O'Dell contends Noble police and DHS officials behaved improperly by searching her home and questioning her children in her absence.

Springstead defended his officer's actions.

He said the officer went to the home because of a report that a 2-year-old boy had been seen playing outside in the street.

By the time the officer arrived, the child had already gone back inside, but the front door was left unlocked and opened.

Springstead said the officer yelled and yelled, but nobody came to the door. He said the father of the other child being kept at the home was at the scene and concerned about his child's safety, so the officer went inside to check on their welfare.

"Everyone in the residence was asleep except the child who had gone outside," he said.

Springstead said his department is investigating whether there was child neglect.

O'Dell said she is getting completely out of the child care business and going back to school.