NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — There was no sign of anyone at Amazing World Daycare on Warwick Boulevard Friday afternoon — No children, no employees. 10 On Your Side learned the owner voluntarily closed the facility recently, according to the Virginia Department of Social Services.
The closure comes days after a visit from an inspector with the Virginia Department of Health. That inspection was prompted by a call from Lakisha Smith.
“What she did was wrong. I’m here to speak for children because children cannot speak for themselves,” Smith told 10 On Your Side, speaking about Amazing World owner Charlotte P. Brown.
Smith said her concerns began in late April after a comment from her five-year-old son. He told her, “‘I will not use the bathroom there. It’s dirty and it smells really bad,'” Smith said. “And when he told me that, it shocked me.”
She says she confronted the owner, Brown, who told her her son was lying. That’s when she called the health department. A spokesman confirmed an inspector went by on April 28 and found fecal matter in the toilets, and no running water.
“How can you run a facility like that with babies and children where they can’t be clean? They can’t wash their hands. There’s germs going around,” Smith said.
Reached by phone, Brown told 10 On Your Side the lack of water was “a plumbing issue.” A spokesman for the Virginia Department of Health tells us the health inspector reported the water was off for three weeks due to lack of payment.
But could it have been cut off even longer? A city of Newport News spokeswoman said water works records show water usage for the year at that address averaged at zero.
The health department did not investigate further, as the facility does not serve food, but they did notify the Virginia Department of Social Services. A spokeswoman there tells 10 On Your Side they tried to investigate an allegation of an illegal daycare, but when they arrived at the facility, it was already closed. She also confirmed Amazing World Daycare has not had a child care license since 2014. It was licensed as an active business with the City of Newport News.
Smith reached out to 10 On Your Side to let other parents whose children attended the facility know what was discovered inside. She says while the lack of child care is a temporary disruption, she’s very proud of her son.
“Oh, I was very proud of him. I went and took him out for ice cream and sprinkles on top like he asked for, because I wanted him to know he can talk to me about anything and I always told him he could.”
Brown tells 10 On Your Side she will refund Smith for the tuition she paid. WAVY News wanted to ask her if she would refund other parents, but she refused to answer more questions.