State orders day care to close

A Burbank day-care center whose operators’ teenage son is accused of molesting a 4-year-old client was ordered Friday to shut down, according to a state suspension that accused the facility of a lack of supervision and failure to provide adequate care.

A woman who answered the door Friday morning of Mejia Family Child Care — which has been operating out of a home on Pepper Street for nearly five years — said the facility is safe for children. If it wasn’t, the California Department of Social Services would have shut the operation down, she added.

“They’re not stupid,” said the woman, who refused to confirm if she was the owner, Lilian Mejia. Holding a plastic children’s toy on her front porch, she added: “That’s enough proof that the day care is a safe environment.”

Michael Weston, a spokesman for the state Department of Social Services, said the order was issued later in the day Friday.

After it’s received, “she’s not allowed to provide licensed care in the state,” he said.

The suspension — which according to the order was “necessary to protect children in care at the facility from substantial threat to their health and safety” — is separate from the criminal investigation centered around the alleged sexual abuse.

An investigation this week by the California Department of Social Services-Community Care Licensing Bureau found that the day care exceeded capacity by one infant.

The order from that investigation also referred to the molestation allegations in claiming Mejia “failed to provide adequate care and supervision.”

Mejia has 15 days from the time she receives the order to file an appeal, at which time the suspension becomes a license revocation.

Meanwhile, the 14-year-old boy facing the allegations was released from police custody this week to a family member pending a court date. He is not staying at his parents’ Pepper Street home, said Burbank Police Sgt. Darin Ryburn.

Police believe the alleged abuse was an isolated incident, but added that the investigation is ongoing.

The teenager, who was not identified because he is a minor, was detained Sunday after the alleged victim’s mother called police to lodge the complaint. An investigation determined that the 4-year-old boy was at the day-care center when the alleged abuse occurred.

Police said parents of children attending the day-care center were notified of the allegations and were interviewed. All of the parents who are clients of the facility were also supposed to get a copy of the suspension order Friday, according to Weston.

Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter @atchek.



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