Blue Springs in-home daycare closed after owner found to be operating illegally

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BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. -- A metro home daycare previously investigated and shut down by the state was found to still be open and operating illegally. It's a FOX 4 follow-up to an investigation we brought you several years ago.

The Care-A-Lot Daycare has a file full of complaints and this case has now made its way into the hands of the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office. The state department that oversees daycare licensing says Cheryl Maher was operating an illegal child care facility in her home.

Sidewalk chalk, colorful kids chairs, and bags of trash sat outside the front-lower level entrance of the in-home daycare in Blue Springs. In the backyard, a disassembled jungle gym and a half-dozen toy cars were scattered.

All signs of where children played up until at least two weeks ago when police and state authorities made an unannounced visit to the home. According to a state investigation, Maher was operating a daycare illegally and without a license.

Maher has been investigated several times by state authorities. In 2008 when FOX 4 first looked into the at-home daycare, Maher's license was being revoked. FOX 4 found then, that dating back to 1992, Maher's Blue Springs daycare racked up more than two dozen state rules violations.

The violations ranged from dirty and unsafe conditions, finding unsupervised crying children, to twice violating the number of children allowed in her care. The most serious was a "child abuse and neglect" violation in 1993. Now more than 20 years later, she is under investigation again.

In the 2008 case, the state stripped Maher's license, meaning she wasn't allowed to operate as a child care facility and couldn't care for more than four children at a time.
But on March 14, 2014, documents say Maher was found to have nine kids in her care.

Six of those children, the state says, were found hiding with another adult in a neighbor's yard after investigators knocked on Maher's door. When we knocked to ask Maher about the most current allegations, we got the door slammed in our face.

The Jackson County Prosecutor's Office has not yet charged Maher in this case. According to state legislative documents, Maher could face a fine of up to $10,000.

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