BROOKLINE, Mass. - Parents are upset and asking for answers after a day care under state investigation following the death of an infant suddenly closed days after taking tuition payments.
25 Investigates has been following the case since September 2018 when a 5-month-old was found unresponsive at the Watertown location. An investigation by the state Department of Early Education revealed Strawberry Child Care staff members had failed to perform CPR.
Only Boston 25 News cameras were there a month later when the day care's owner, Monica Ryan, testified that CPR certifications for two staff members, including her, had been falsified.
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Nineteen months before the baby was found unresponsive, state licensing investigators had already uncovered a number of violations. Among the compliance issues in the report obtained by 25 Investigates through a public records request, the licensor wrote:
"The director [Monica Ryan] is working with staff to ensure that their required training hours will be completed by June 2017."
Following the infant's death, the EEC closed the day care's Watertown location and restricted enrollment in Brookline.
Now, 25 Investigates has learned the EEC cited Ryan for violations at the Brookline location as well, including continuing child enrollment in violation of the enrollment freeze, and failure to complete required educator background checks.
It's unclear if parents ever knew of the violations.
Business continued, and 25 Investigates obtained emails showing on Thursday, December 20 from owner Monica Ryan giving parents "a kind reminder that January tuition was due." Just one week later, on Thursday, Dec. 27, Ryan sent an email, announcing "Strawberry Child Care in Brookline will not reopen in January... I am currently without company financial options to reopen."
The closure in itself violates state law, which requires day cares give parents 30 days notice.
At least 16 children were enrolled at the Brookline location when it shut down. Some parents tell Boston 25 News they had already paid more than $2,000 in tuition, which Ryan says won't be refunded.
Boston 25 News tried multiple times to reach Monica Ryan, but the phone number was connected to the now-closed day care. We are still efforting reaching Ryan for comment.
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