BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Caregivers tell me that Kids Quest has failed to follow required state menus and aren't teaching the youngsters. The owner of Kids Quest denies the allegations, saying disgruntled former employees are looking for five minutes of fame. Kids Quest states that the facility is a learning center for the kids.
Owner Tracie Shishilla calls her child care center a world-class facility. Director Christy George says they teach the A Beka program to the children.
"It's through the Pensacola Christian Academy," George said. "It's a curriculum that we do with the kids every single day. It teaches them phonics, writing their name, sounds of letters, colors, numbers, everything. It gets them ready for kindergarten."
A former Kids Quest caregiver, who does not want to be identified, says the children are not being properly prepared in the classroom.
"The program that is supposed to be taught to these kids is the A Beka program. I learned absolutely nothing while I was there. None of us were trained on it. We were basically stuck in a classroom with a lot of kids at one time. They are not learning," said the former caregiver. "The whole idea is to prepare them for the next level, which would be kindergarten. This is not happening. It's not happening."
We took a look inside the refrigerator with video that was supplied to WLOX from a caregiver who says they sometimes have to go out and buy food for the youngsters because the refrigerator is almost empty or the food is spoiled. They also said many times the children are not fed breakfast.
Kids Quest is required by the state to have a qualified cook on staff.
"They actually had me cook lunch one day, and I had made some spaghetti. It was in the refrigerator two and a half weeks later. They served it again and told me to put it in a different container and change the date," the former caregiver said. "They do not feed them properly. They give them rotten, spoiled food, outdated food. They don't give them the correct proportions."
"We're always within the food guidelines the state requires. So, I don't know what anyone is telling you," said Shishilla.
Shishilla says Kids Quest has 108 children enrolled at the center. I asked her how much money does the state give Kids Quest per student.
"I'm not going to discuss the finances," Shishilla replied.
I then asked her how much money does the state give Kids Quest for food.
"You can check with the state," Shishilla said. "No. You can check into that with the state. The state can give you that information."
According to Julia Bryan, with the Mississippi Department of Human Services, Kids Quest is a participating provider with the Mississippi Payment Program, administered by MDHS and has approximately 77 children enrolled with child care certificates.
The Mississippi Department of Human Services pays Kids Quest $15 to $18 per day for each full-time enrolled child. Shishilla says Kids Quest Is open for inspection at any time.
"Any parent can come into the facility and check on their children," said Shishilla.
Besides the Mississippi State Department of Health fining Kids Quest $200 for going over the staff-to-child ratios, we have also learned that the MSDH is now investigating the video that caregivers shot after sending the camera phone video to the health department.
WLOX News will have a follow-up report.