LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- A daycare owner in Las Cruces confirmed late Wednesday that the license for one of the locations she owns has been suspended by New Mexico's Children, Youth and Families Department, or CYFD.
Karen Sowards, the owner of Kids Kountry, told ABC-7 that the location at 2920 Mase Lane is temporarily shut down but added she couldn't say why because of an ongoing state investigation.
"They thought that something was going on and we want to get to the bottom of it too," Sowards said.
A CYFD spokesman said the state probe involved "concerns for the safety and welfare of the children in the child care center," which he added prompted licensing officials to close it for now.
The closed daycare is one of eight Kids Kountry locations owned by the same family.
ABC-7 launched an investigation into the daycare chain after parents shared a photo of a little girl locked inside another of daycare location on Elks Drive in September, after employees had already left for the day.
In a separate action disclosed Wednesday, state regulators have lowered the rating for the Elks Drive location to two stars and imposed a dozen sanctions against it.
The corrections Sowards must implement include a new policy for checking out children at the end of the day that includes a closing checklist, as well as having a sign-in and sign-out sheet for children. The daycare staff is also required to receive new training. (Read the entire list at the end of this article.)
As ABC-7 previously reported, we also found 30 other substantiated reports of violations spanning five years between all eight daycare sites.
CYFD spokesman Charlie Moore-Pabst said in the wake of the closure of the Kid’s Kountry Maese Lane location that his agency was "working with parents to help them find appropriate accommodations for children."
He indicated parents affected by the closure could contact the CYFD Child Care Services Office at 575-373-6640, the New Mexico Resource and Referral at 1-800-691-9067 or visit www.newmexicokids.org for assistance in finding child care.
Sowards claimed 90 percent of the families who use her daycare location that is currently closed would be transferring their children to the other Kids Kountry locations.