Daycare center thrown into chaos after staff walks out over pay

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ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – Dozens of parents had to leave work or make special arrangements to pick up their children from a South St. Louis City day care Tuesday.  Workers, complaining they had not been paid in more than a month, refused to work.  Only a few employees at Mary Margaret Day Care and Learning Center at 4040 South Broadway were on duty.

Missouri inspectors from the Department of Health and Senior Services were checking on what had happened, but the department declined to provide any more information.

One grandmother said she had been told it could take several weeks to resolve the problem and she did not know where her daughter would find the child care she needs to keep her own job.

Former teacher Naisha Thomas said she and heard there might be some financial difficulties so she started looking for another job.  But she said she needed her pay check to buy gasoline so she could get to a new job.  Thomas said they work for minimum wage and get paid only once a month on the 21st.  She had expected her check on Friday, Sept. 19 since the 21st fell on a Sunday.  "It's really frustrating because I live month to month," she said.  Her efforts to reach the center director Deanna McOwan were unsuccessful.

McOwan did not return phone calls from FOX2.  However Mark Daly who owns seven other day care centers that use the Mary Margaret name said his firm, Auntie Margaret's Day Care, Inc. , is not affiliated with the center on South Broadway.  He said his brother; Chris Daly owned the business at one time but had sold it.

The company's Facebook site still lists the facility at 4040 South Broadway as part of the firm, but Daly said that website is out of date.

Thomas complained the facility had received funds from the state totaling $40,000 on September 10th yet teachers have not been paid and she questioned whether or not the children had food for lunch Tuesday.

Marissa DeHart, the mother of two toddlers brought her children to the center only to be told they could not stay.  She was referred to another day care center, Adventure Learning Center at 5440 Gravois.  DeHart said she receives state assistance to pay for the day care.

"I pay my share so they are getting my money and state money but yet nobody else is getting paid..that's kind of fishy you know if you ask me," she said.  DeHart and the workers said they had not received any warning that the facility was on the verge of closing.

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