Childcare provider license revoked

2012-08-13T23:00:00Z Childcare provider license revokedBy the Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

A northwest Lincoln day care provider has lost her license.

On March 2, Lincoln police cited Sonja Merrick for misdemeanor child abuse. The Lancaster County attorney’s office later declined to prosecute the case,  citing lack of evidence.

However, Merrick failed to notify the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services of the citation, as required, according to the notice of revocation issued by the department.

The revocation notice says police became involved after a doctor reported bruising on a child’s hips and stomach that was inconsistent with Merrick’s explanation of how the bruises got there.

Merrick, who was licensed to watch as many as 10 children in her home at 5268 W. Redberry Lane, told the parents she put the child in a highchair for time-out and the bruising happened when the child struggled in the chair, according to the revocation notice.

The doctor said the bruising most resembled finger marks left by an adult hand squeezing or holding the child down by the waist very hard.

HHS suspended Merrick’s license March 6, yet during a complaint investigation March 20 it found her caring for a child.

Staff investigating her day care home discovered she had failed to properly document all the children she cared for and exceeded required child-to-staff ratios in January, February and March.

She also allegedly falsified USDA food billing claims and records, according to the revocation notice.

Merrick no longer may provide care for children other than her own and can’t reapply for a child care license for two years.

HHS issued the revocation order last month, and Merrick had 15 days to appeal. Officials announced in a news release Monday that the revocation had become final.

When reached by phone Monday, Merrick declined to comment.

HHS also announced the revocation of the child care license of Nancy Gipfert, 2453 Deaver Drive, in Sidney.

Gipfert has pleaded not guilty to a felony child abuse charge filed in Cheyenne County after a 2-month-old baby suffered serious head trauma while in her care last fall, according to court documents.

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