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Reformatory etc. CP - August 2006
Concord Monitor, New Hampshire, 8 August 2006
Women accused of spankings
Officials say day-care owner had history of hitting kids
By Annmarie Timmins
The state agency that reprimanded Nancy Tucker, a Concord day-care provider, in 2003 for spanking children is now trying to revoke her license for allegedly spanking children again. In addition, the Concord police have charged Tucker and her daughter-in-law with simple assault for the alleged spankings.
Tucker, 60, of 33 South St., has run Nancy's Day Care from her home since 1970 and is licensed to care for six children ages 6 weeks to 12 years old. She was allowed to keep her daycare license in 2003 by agreeing not to hit children again after two parents complained their children had been spanked, according to records from the state Department of Health and Human Services. The three new complaints, reported in June and July, have prompted the agency to order that Tucker's license be revoked.
Tucker, who has until tomorrow to tell state officials whether she'll fight revocation, said yesterday that she intends to give up her license. She said she planned long ago, prior to the current spanking allegations, to retire from day-care work when her current license expires in October.
"After almost 37 years in day care, it's time to try to do something different," she said. Tucker disputed the spanking allegations but declined to discuss them in detail because she had not spoken with her lawyer.
The state Bureau of Child Care Licensing learned that Tucker had been accused anew of spanking children after two parents reported the spanking to the Concord police in late June. A third parent came forward with spanking allegations in July. Also accused was Tucker's daughter-in-law, Lelania Tucker, 36, also of 33 South St.
One parent, Kelly Shattuck, told the police that she noticed a faded handprint on her 4-year-old son's buttocks several hours after leaving Tucker's house. Shattuck said her son told her that Nancy and Lelania Tucker had spanked him for taking a toy from another child and, later, for not picking up his toys.
Both Nancy and Lelania Tucker have been charged with simple assault for allegedly spanking Shattuck's son. They are due in Concord District Court on Aug. 30. According to the state's investigative file, Nancy Tucker admitted spanking the boy, while her daughter-in-law said she only tapped him. Nancy Tucker said she knew she wasn't supposed to be spanking children, according to state files.
"I just stressed out so bad because I went off my medicine,"she is quoted as telling state officials. "I lost it and I spanked him."
Two other parents also complained in June and July of corporal punishment, which is defined by state officials as slapping, spanking, shaking and rough handling. Their complaints were not unlike those filed against Nancy Tucker in 2003 by the parents of a 2-year-old and 3-year-old. State officials investigated then and found those allegations to be credible, according to state records. Tucker agreed to stop using corporal punishment.
After learning of the new allegations, state officials made an unannounced inspection of Tucker's day care in July and determined the allegations were true, according to state records. "In particular," state officials wrote to Tucker, inspectors "found that you spanked a child with considerable force and that you have spanked other children."
That visit also turned up other violations of state day-care rules, the records show. Investigators found that Lelania Tucker was using derogatory words in front of the children and had yelled at them. The women had put misbehaving children in a "time out," isolated from other children, for up to two days. They had also left knives, letter openers and scissors in the reach of young children, the records said. Investigators noted the absence of a safety gate at the bottom of the stairway leading to the second floor while a child younger than 3 was nearby.
Shattuck, who has since placed her son in a relative's care, said yesterday that she was upset with state officials for allowing Tucker to keep her day care license in 2003, after she was first found to be spanking children. Shattuck relies on state assistance to pay for day care and said the state was wrong to approve a day care it knew had violated rules.
Greg Moore, a spokesman for the state Department of Health and Human Services, said yesterday that his office views violations on a case-by-case basis. When Tucker was accused in 2003, it was her first problem with corporal punishment in nearly 33 years of holding a license, he said.
"We try to work with providers and put them in a position where they can correct any issues,"Moore said. Tucker acknowledged the problems in 2003 and assured state officials she would not repeat the violations, state records show. In other cases, day-care providers have resolved an issue by firing staff who break the rules.
Moore said complaints of spankings are very rare among the state's 1,200 licensed daycare providers. Still, he said, his office takes these complaints seriously: "If there is a significant issue, we move quickly to ensure the safety and health of the children."
Moore said parents and guardians can report complaints against childcare providers to their local police department or the state Bureau of Child Care Licensing at 271-4624 or 800-852-3345, ext. 4624. The public can also review a daycare provider's history by visiting childcaresearch.dhhs.nh.gov/search.asp.
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