Two Valdosta daycare centers under "emergency order" to close, owners charged for failure to report child abuse

By: Katie Kaplan & Web Staff | WCTV Eyewitness News
February 11, 2020

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- Two daycare centers in Valdosta are shuttered under an emergency order from the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning.

The owners of Tickle Me Pink Daycare and Learning Center have been arrested and charged in connection to an incident in which an employee allegedly physically assaulted a two-year-old child, according to the Valdosta Police Department.

Investigators allege Pamela and Brent Carter were made aware of the alleged abuse after the incident on January 14, 2020, but did not report it to the parents or authorities. Police said once authorities were alerted, an investigation was launched and they determined that the now-former female employee physically assaulted the child.

Pamela Carter faces felony charges of giving a false statement and tampering with evidence, as well as a misdemeanor charge of failure to report child abuse. Brent Carter has been charged with tampering with evidence and failure to report child abuse. Both were arrested and booked into the Lowndes County Jail.

A warrant has been issued for the former employee who has not yet been identified. Police said she is expected to comply with the investigation and to turn herself in.

The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning said it issued an emergency closure order for both Tickle Me Pink Daycare and Learning Center locations in Valdosta. The daycare providers have 48 hours to appeal.

One parent who has trusted the daycare with several of her children said she was having a hard time processing the allegations.

"When I found out what happened, it was just, for me, it was hard to believe that that was even true. Mrs. Pam did so much for so many families," said Felicia Kohler.

Valdosta PD Commander Bobby McGraw said the agency does not believe there are more victims.

"We're safe to say that this appeared to be excessive discipline," she said. "We have no reason to believe that there was any other child involved."

A representative for DECAL told WCTV via email that the department inspects "every licensed child care program twice each year unannounced" and sent along the following statement to WCTV Tuesday afternoon:

“On February 10, 2020, the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) issued intended order of emergency closure for two child care programs in Valdosta --- Tickle Me Pink Daycare and Learning Center, located at 252 North Saint Augustine Road, Valdosta GA 31601, and Tickle Me Pink – The Academy, located at 102/104 Kelly Drive, Valdosta GA 31601. This action is taking place in conjunction with an investigation by Valdosta Police into allegations of inappropriate discipline at the first location. The provider has 48 hours to appeal the emergency closures to an administrative law judge with the Office of State Administrative Hearings (OSAH). Parents impacted by this situation can connect with child care resources at www.allgakids.org or by calling the toll-free number 1-877-ALL GA KIDS. Parents will be assisted in locating quality child care options. DECAL provides this free service to parents. At DECAL, our top priority is the health and safety of our state’s young learners.”

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