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Daycare shut down after allegations of violence, poor conditions

EVERETT, Wash. -- An Everett daycare center was recently shut down after state investigators allegedly found a host of safety violations.

A note on the door at the Little Learners Early Learning Center says the daycare's license has been suspended.

Brittany Lawrence worked at Little Learners for three months before the state Department of Early Learning shut the center down. She said workers did their best to care for the kids, but the problems were obvious.

"The diaper changing table was in the wrong spot," she said. "We always had cold water. We didn't have hot water. Sometimes we didn't have soap."

The center's owners, Omar and Carla Taplin, have had a string of trouble with the state. Inspectors filed a report saying, "there is no warm water for hand washing and washing dishes," and the center "does not provide appropriate meals and snacks."

The menu posted inside lists a range of nutritious meals, but Lawrence said it was all a lie.

"We're supposed to have certain snacks, but we had crackers, like, every day," she said. "We're supposed to give them milk. We didn't give them milk, like, ever."

Even more troubling, the state inspectors believe spanking was used as a punishment and staff sometimes left children unattended in the classroom.

Lawrence said she and her coworkers did their best to care for the two dozen children at the center, even buying supplies with their own money. She also said the Taplin's stiffed the employees out of their last three paychecks.

"Up to $1,200, $1,500 for me," she said. "And the other girls work more than me, they're full time, so I don't know how much they are losing. A lot."

The state also shut down an Edmonds daycare center owned by the Taplins.

Omar Taplin refused to comment on the story.

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