Parents frustrated, saddened over closing of Greenwood daycare

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Dozens of frustrated parents gathered at a Greenwood church Wednesday night, to learn more about the impending closing of its daycare.

Little Angels Daycare and Preschool at White River Baptist Church has been served with a letter of registration termination by the Indiana Family & Social Services Administration.

The letter, dated Jan. 31, found that the church-operated daycare violated state code after a state investigator discovered the church deacon had been banned from the property in 2012 after a 5-year-old girl accused him of improperly touching her.

Greenwood Police detectives could not substantiate the allegation, but state child protective services investigators did.

“We had conversations with the facility letting them know that if they wanted to operate as a registered childcare ministry they were not able to have this individual on the grounds and reached an agreement at that time,” said Melanie Brizzi, child care administrator of the Bureau of Child Care. “When we went back on Jan. 30, he was found to be on the premises.”

Now, about 130 children, including 7-year-old Blake Driver, have less than a week to find alternative child care. The shutdown willtake effect Feb. 13.

“I love it very much and I’ve been here since I was a baby,” said Driver. “They’re like family to us.”

Driver’s mother was one of many parents who expressed their frustrations at a meeting at the church Wednesday night. Many parents also wanted to stand up for the church leader.

“My mom graduated with Pastor Steve. And I know that they’re good people and it’s literally tearing them apart,” said Ali Driver.

“He would do anything that he can to protect them,” added Sean LeMaster, whose daughter has been going to the daycare since she was a few weeks old.

Parent Jason Smith felt the same way.

“It’s a godsend,” Smith told Fox 59. “This place, this staff, and the pastor and all the folks here are top notch across the board.”

Smith said he hasn’t made any arrangements for his children yet, because he hopes the FSSA will change its decision.

An attorney for the church plans to contact the FSSA on Thursday morning and could also file a temporary injunction in an effort to keep the daycare open a little while longer.

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66 comments

  • Supportive Parent

    This seems to be a typical case of guilty until proven innocent, as was clear by many of the comments made at the parent meeting tonight. As was made ubundantly clear, the leadership was never made aware that the individual was banned from the church property, and appropriate precautions were taken. The recommendations flowing out of DCS and the FSSA were followed, and yet the FSSA still wants to punish Little Angels. Further, this largely came about because of self-reporting. Ms. Brizzi's story is factually inaccurate, as is their opinion of Little Angels. The facility should be allowed to stay open.

    • kayepage

      When dealing with DCS, allegations are subjected to DCS subjective opinions not facts. We know DCS never act upon innocent until proven guilty because they deem guilt without proven valid evidence. DCS does not function like a real judicial system. DCS will commit perjury, falsify evidence, build webs of lies and incenuations to maliciously cause harm & slander. WE know all too well. So does AG Greg Zoeller, who committed perjury 2 protect DCS' aiding of infant' skull bashing & malicious intent of fraud, & prevented DCS from giving a deposition regarding their criminal willful actions permitting abuse of a child

  • Supportive parent

    My child has been there since she was weeks old and we have never had a problem, I personally know the pastor and his family at this church and know they will take whatever measures are necessary to protect my child and the staff there are like family to us. I find it disgusting that the FSA wants to shut this institution down when the leadership at the daycare followed the direction they were advised to take.

  • joe-joe2

    Another church-sponsored day care that doesn't need to be licensed .
    Those are some very serious allegations against the deacon and he should not have been permitted on the property.
    If my child had been attending there………I'd pull him out immediately. Don't understand these parents that want to throw their kids under the bus instead of finding them a safe place to be. Does another tragedy have to occur before these parents wake up ????

    • Supportive parent

      Do you not realize this could happen anywhere? The parents know that facts and that's what helps them make their decision.

      • joe-joe2

        Well duh…….of course I realize this could happen anywhere. And no………the parents do not always know the facts.
        I did go through a similar situation with my son and daughter………I found a different and safer place for them until the facts were known and the problems resolved. That should be your priority rather than joining a parade to save a place you like……..before ALL of the facts are known.

      • Anonymous

        I agree with Joe-Joe. I was a member of this church for over 10 years. I live in the community. We left over the fact that this so called "ministry" was being started. The Finke family business needs to be shut down. They can call themselves a ministry so they don't have to concur with guidelines that keep kids safe and healty. Example, nutrition requirements, backgrounds of staff etc. They don't even have to be in the same room or watching the children because they are a "ministry". Close the doors!!!

      • Supportive Parent

        Completely bogus comment. Everyone has background checks. I volunteered one day last summer for two hours while staff atteneded a funeral for one of their own and was background screened. Furthermore, Little Angels actually exceeds the recommendations and requirements for commercial daycares, despite that they do not have to. I have never seen children left in a room by themselves, and 95% of the time there are two adult staff members present. I have never seen a cleaner or safer facility.

      • Bob

        you are dumb
        This so called "ministry" you put in quotes have brought people to Christ and I would be very careful what you say about a person who is leading people to the lord. You are accountable to the lord remember that!

      • joe-joe2

        Makes more sense to err on the side of caution until the facts are known.
        With every word you say, it sure appears that your personal priority is NOT the safety of anyone's child, including your own. That's just sad.

        You sure seem to know a lot for only having been there one day for two hours. Perhaps you are not a supportive parent at all but rather a member of the staff or the ministers family. Good luck.

    • guest

      Do YOU operate an FSSA licensed daycare for all of these children to receive care NOW?? What are the parents of these children supposed to do now? It is easy to criticize. Why not open up your own ABSOLUTELY PERFECT daycare TOMORROW???

      • guest

        Do you have children? I stopped working and my husband and I sacrificed financially so I could stay home to take care of mine. We now have an HONOR STUDENT with a 4.3 GPA. How well did you do with your kids???

  • ClanSmokeJaguar

    >Greenwood Police detectives could not substantiate the allegation, but state child protective services investigators did.

    Then DCS should turn their evidence over to the po-po for criminal prosecution but they won't because any evidence they have was poorly obtained or non-existant.

  • Anonymous

    My children are at Little Angels daycare. According to what was said at the parent’s meeting last night, this statement… “We had conversations with the facility letting them know that if they wanted to operate as a registered childcare ministry they were not able to have this individual on the grounds and reached an agreement at that time,” Is not entirely correct. The daycare was never notified that the accusation was substantiated even after multiple calls by daycare staff to the FSSA.The daycare reported the incident, but FSSA did not respond within the 30 days that their rules state they will respond. FSSA did not respond until 9 months after the incident was reported by the daycare staff. The daycare is being penalized for the lack of action by FSSA. The daycare did make mistakes, but the closure is an over reaction. This is going to put a huge burden on all of the parents that must find alternate daycare and on the staff (who did nothing wrong) if/when they lose their jobs.

    • Supportive Parent

      Because state law requires it to be confidential. Any child could accuse an adult of something similar. Your life is automatically ruined, just based upon an allegation, baseless or not. FSSA has actually violated state law by releasing as much identifying information as they have, and I hope that the deacon sues them for defamation.

  • Anonymous

    I think the investigators need to dig deeper. May dig up more corrupt stuff. Who was this deacon? A family member of the Pastor? It wouldn't surprise me. Real shady stuff going on there.

    • Josh

      It was not a family member get your facts straight. The accused stands only and he ALONE should pay for this not anyone else.

  • Anonymous #2

    I agree, who is this deacon? Def, apart of the the crazy Fenke family to be able to still be involved still with the church. They can do not wrong!!

  • Anonymous

    I went to this church for quite some time. My child went to daycare here as well….until I pulled my child out. It is a family ran business. There isn’t any “governing body” that oversees the way things are ran, except the pastor and his family. There are several things that are swept under the rug until it “goes away”. This time it doesn’t look like it is “going away”. The leadership of the daycare is unresponsible and immature. I hate that this happened. I hate to see any person go through this kind of thing…be it parents of children that go there that have a tough decision to make, children that will be disrupted, the staff that will be out of jobs, even the pastor and his family. But when things are not handled correctly and situations aren’t dealt with properly from the beginning, things like this happen. Substantiated or not, if my child was there, I would not want my child there until ALL the facts were out and someone made a decision to whether this person is guilty or innocent. Children at times make up stories about things…BUT in a situation like this, the child HAS to be believed until it is proven that they are telling the truth or lying. It seems there will be more to come as the news reports that more accusations have been reported. I pray for all that are involved.

    • Anonymous

      I agree 100%. I have been a member of this church for 10+ years. I had to leave because it turned into the Finke family business. So much conflict of interests. Hush hush about a lot of things. This is a Church not a political arena. God puts leaders in their roles and Pastor Steve was playing God in my book.

    • guest

      Pardon me, but this is an extremely judgemental one-liner. I didn't know that the US constitution was changed to state that a church, daycare or individual is now guilty until proven innocent

    • guest

      May God forgive you for making fun of the CROSS which represents the instrument of torture upon which His Son died for YOUR sins and those of the whole world!

  • David Garrett

    The name of the deacon that inappropriately touched the girl is Ralph Williams. Steve Finke is the senior pastor at White River Baptist Church and did nothing because Ralph Williams was a deacon and a yes man to him!!

    • Anonymous

      Do you go to this church? Parent of the girl? Daycare parent? Was wondering how you knew this information?

      • Anonymous

        What matters is that the information is 100% true. Call Steve Finke and ask him at the church. What really matters, above all, is that Little Angels Daycare, and above all the senior pastor Steve Finke, KNOWINGLY let a person who had a SUBSTANTIATED complaint against him into the Little Angels building, which is the church building. The state does not take likely shutting down a daycare and throwing people out of work, nor having 130 or so children have to go to another facility. They do it because the SAFETY of CHILDREN was IMPERILED because of Steve Finke.

      • Sad

        The person who endangered the children's safety was RALPH WILLIAMS!!!!!!!!!! The info the daycare had was that it was NOT a substantiated claim, it was only recently brought to light that is was now a substantiated claim – which is why the daycare is now in this position! Ralph knew it was an ongoing investigation and that it was substantiated and yet he failed to communicate that, probably because he's too busy with his closed door meetings and brain washing everyone to throw Paster Steve OUT and vote HIM to be Pastor!!! Is this his sick attempt to get all access to all the kids at the church? If you are voting on Wednesday…ask yourself that question…

  • Anonymous

    They are to busy with their vacations, getting their nails done, tanning, and their coach bags to care about the children.

    • supportive parent

      You obviously haven’t tried to even get to know them. They are some of the most down to earth people I know.

      • Anonymous

        You don't know the many staff people who have quit or have been let go because they asked to manyy questions, or the ex-church members. They know the Finke family, and they are the ones to ask. They are the people with most of the comments. Did you know that there are Little Angels staffers that are non-Christians who have out of wedlock babies, or live with their boyfriends, or drink alcohol profusely? These are the people responsible for teaching the Bible to children. The leadership knows this, and does nothing. There are some wonderful people there at Little Angels, but the leadership is not included in the list. They call this a Church Ministry!!???!!!

  • Concerned

    Oh where do we find the truth? Pastor Steve is an excellent pastor preaching the word of God and yes, the daycare is ran by his family. What I know of them, they are good Christians. Everybody deserves a vacation, most women like to get their nails done and you can get Coach purses at Goodwill. The biggest mistake pastor Steve made, as we see it, is not getting deacon Ralph away from the daycare immediately once the allegations were made. Deacon Ralph should not have been removed from worshiping unless charges were made but not allowed around children if he did come to worship.. The question of pastor Steve not handling Ralph's removal per the scripture….Ralph sinned against mans laws and children allegedly, so even if Ralph repents, he needed to be taken out of the daycare picture immediately when the allegations were made. May God bless WRBC, the daycare and pastor Steve Finke.

    • Anonymous

      Vacations 3 times a year and leaving during the day for several hours to get nails done? Sounds pretty pathetic to me. Highly doubt they bought their purses at goodwill too!

      • Supportive parent

        It makes me wonder if the people supporting this deacon knowing the allegations if they would comfortable enough to leave their children with him. What really makes this interesting is none of them have a big enough set to step up and tell them why they think a vote to dismiss the pastor is necessary.

  • Concerned

    First of all I am praying for the child at the center of this all, may this child/family find strength, healing and comfort. I am also praying for all the children of the daycare who may have their worlds turned upside down at the end of next week. Contrary to many of the comments here, it is not all about convenience.

    It seems as if there are a few people with a grudge against the Finke family posting on this site. While I do not know them personally, they and their staff have good care of children, both of them, since they were babies. My oldest loves to go "to school" and comes home singing children's Bible songs and telling me about baby Jesus. That was part of the reason we chose Little Angels.

    At this time I think it is difficult to separate fact from emotion. And I don't think we have all of the facts yet. The news reports seem to have some inaccuracies biased against the daycare (e.g. the accused was found on the daycare premises in January). They have video surveillance there, hopefully someone is checking that. However, I am waiting to see how this all plays out and then I will make an educated decision on what is best for my children.

  • Sam

    Can someone tell me how getting your nails done which most women do and everyone that I know in this population gets a lunch hour and how going on vacation which again everyone employeed on the planet also receives has anything to do with the integrity of pastor Steve or Little Angels and how those comments have anything to do with the issue at hand that an accusation was made against an employee and the daycare was advised by the authorities to follow a process which they did and now everyone thinks this is their opportunity to trash the church,daycare and the pastor it is truly sick and the character of all these things will not be torn down by these comments because the man behind these things is a servant of the lord and that alone god will protect .

  • Sad parent

    My heart hurts with all of the negative comments made regarding Pastor Steve and his family. This has become an attack on him and his character by God loving people and it is sick . How many of you are aware that there will be a vote in 4 days, on Wednesday, to appoint RALPH, the offender, the reason for ALL of this the Pastor of this church? There will be a vote to remove Steve and his family by the very people who claim to love him? How can they let this happen? How can they let a man who has sinned in the eyes of God and the law take over a church and essentially guarantee the shut down of this wonderful daycare? There is something very, very wrong with that……..

    • Disgusted

      You're indeed correct there is something drastically wrong with this. I dare you to ask the leadership who is trying to remove him what their charge is for trying to do so. This was asked in a recent service and the response was "I wasn't told, I was just told to make the announcement. This is a load of crap! They know themselves they don't have a valid charge to remove him!!!

      • Bob

        Then you don't know anything at all. A person named Debbie Sutton left a child on the bus in the freezing cold for an hour and a half. That part is just being left out because it's not "News".

  • His Word

    Prov 20:19 A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.
    Prov 16:28 A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.
    Lev 19:16 "'Do not go about spreading slander among your people. "'Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor's life. I am the LORD.
    Rom 1:29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips,
    Prov 17:4 A wicked man listens to evil lips; a liar pays attention to a malicious tongue.
    2 Cor 12:19-21 Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? We have been speaking in the sight of God as those in Christ; and everything we do, dear friends, is for your strengthening. For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged.

  • Sam

    The above person quoting scripture needs to SERIOUSLY examine their own life before casting any blame or trying to use scripture to look like they are so godly anyone can quote scripture and type… Mathew 7:3 take a look my friend one more Luke 6:42

  • Bob

    A person named Debbie Sutton left a child on the bus in the freezing cold for an hour and a half. That part is just being left out because it's not "News". The way I understand it, this is one of the main reasons that the daycare WAS going to shut down. Now the greedy Finkes can keep making more than most teachers to run the daycare and the pastor can keep his paid for condo in Florida. On a side note, now that it's state regulated, the state gets to dictate what the daycare does. That means if they say, "No more prayer," the daycare has to listen. You can take that as far as you want.

    • Supportive parent

      Get a life! They earn their money just like you do at your job and what they choose to spend it on is their choice! And as for the no more prayer that you're talking about there's a simple solution. If you think it's such a bad thing that your child learns how to pray then send them somewhere else! Get to know the Finkes and you would find out they are not greedy as you think they are! And by the way the bus incident was not the reason for the state trying to shut them down.

  • Anxious

    Ok – the daycare is still open…So where's this Ralph Williams now? Is he still at the church? WIll he still have contact with the kids? What is going on with him? Are the kids safe???

  • Anonymous

    You all just watch. This will now become ANYONE'S fault but the director of the daycare/leadership of the daycare! They will now point the fingers at anyone but themselves in this situation. Because it seems they are "blameless"….at least in their own eyes.

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