Fox Files: Missouri's church childcare loophole

FOX Files
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PEVELY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Social Services is investigating abuse allegations at a Pevely daycare. It’s the third church facility Fox 2 has reported on in the last two months.

The Fox Files has been reporting on a loophole for church child care centers in Missouri – they are exempt from state licensing.

However, leaders at Victory Church say they’ve acted anyway by removing two teachers from their daycare after reported abuse. Victory Children’s Center (VCC) sent a letter to parents last week, telling them about reported abuse.

Though church child care facilities are exempt from childcare licensing, the state’s Department of Social Services (DSS) investigators can still investigate hotline calls.

The church’s letter says, in part, “...we were visited by representatives of (DSS) in response to an allegation of physical abuse against a teacher at VCC. In the course of the visit, DSS was also informed of an allegation against a second teacher. Following the visit, the teachers who were the subject of the allegations were suspended and ultimately released from employment at VCC.”

Our recent reporting on church daycares has taken across the St. Louis area.

In December, the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office charged a teacher for breaking a 10-month-old’s leg at Covenant for Life Child Development Center in Florissant.

Then we followed up at the daycare connected to the viral video of a child thrown across a room. Brighter Day Care in Pine Lawn was a regular state-licensed facility until the state revoked that license.

Two weeks ago, we showed you how the same location remains open—under a new name—called “New Day.” It no longer needs a license because it’s connected to a church. The twist? We visited the church and found it boarded up and closed down. But in the eyes of state regulators, that doesn’t impact the fact the church-sponsored daycare can remain license-exempt.

At Victory Church, a representative declined to go on camera but sent us a follow-up email, saying they are cooperating with DSS investigators and that church leaders and new daycare management are pledging to take any measures, both legally and ethically, to protect children.

 

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