The Herald also has been unable to reach administrators of the Broward County licensing agency, which had cited Roberts’ 3C’s Day Academy in Sunrise at least 42 times since it opened in 2008.
Among the violations: Roberts was repeatedly cited for caring for more children than her license allowed, and for leaving the youngsters — some of them infants — in the care of her daughter. The daughter, Camile Gordon, was 18 when Roberts was first faulted, below the age required to operate a day-care center.
On Aug. 2, the day after Jordan’s death, The Broward County Human Services Department, which performs such inspections under contract with the state, added five new violations to the tally, including failure to perform background checks on staff, allowing underage caregivers to oversee youngsters, and removing eight children from the home without the permission of their parents. She also was faulted for having only one safety seat in the van with the youngsters, including six preschoolers.
It was the Broward Sheriff’s Office, which investigates child abuse and neglect allegations for the state Department of Children & Families, that ordered the home shut down.
Steven Effman, a Plantation lawyer who sponsored Jeremy’s Law during his four years in the Florida Legislature, said the bill was designed to add a powerful weapon to regulators’ toolboxes that would discourage child-care operators from running their homes well above their licensed capacity — and then lying about it to parents and regulators.
“Of course I’m disappointed,” Effman said Wednesday. “The reason for the law was to protect the most vulnerable in our society — little babies and little kids who can’t defend themselves.”
If regulators and prosecutors had enforced the law, Effman said, owners such as Roberts may have thought twice before filling her house with small children she was ill-equipped to care for. The law, he said, could have been applied in cases where operators were lying about the number of kids in their homes, while being paid to care for them.
“It’s unfortunate that these terrible tragedies have to occur before people realize that these laws are on the books to address these problems,” Effman said.