GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The state is working to pull the license of a Grand Rapids day care, saying the owner allowed people with criminal histories to live there.
The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs said that effective 6 p.m. June 23, it summarily suspended the group home child care home license of Datasha Chapman, who ran a day care at 1015 Benjamin Ave. SE, south of Alexander Street. It has issued a notice of intent to revoke the license.
The day care was known as “The Playroom Child Care.”
A release from LARA said Chapman failed to act in a manner conducive to the welfare of children, failed to ensure the home was conducive to children’s welfare, did not maintain the home in clean, safe and comfortable condition, and did not keep dangerous items away from children. These were violations of the Child Care Organizations Act and administrative rules, according to LARA.
“Most of the things they found were not substantiated, and then the things they found that were substantiated, I am appealing it, because it’s all a lie,” Chapman said.
According to the official order of summary suspension and notice of intent to revoke, Chapman was issued her license Feb. 1, 2023.
In May, Chapman told a Child Care Licensing Bureau staff member that family members considered the house their home and that she struggled to keep family out of the house, the suspension notice said. The state says Chapman allowed several relatives to live in the home without telling LARA or conducting background checks.
“I have a huge time with my family, and sometimes it’s very challenging, but I feel like I have a hold on it. The state of Michigan or the person who came out here kind of felt like I didn’t have a hold on it,” Chapman said.
Many of the people living at the home were not conducive to children’s welfare, LARA argued in its order of summary suspension: Chapman allegedly admitted one was a registered sex offender and had been convicted of criminal sexual conduct.
“From when he (the person allegedly convicted of criminal sexual conduct) was 19 and their mother was 16, and it’s like a Romeo and Juliet story,” Chapman said. “And after he caught the case, we got custody of them (the kids), and they were still just living in my house not too long ago.”
“For them to call and say he has a criminal sexual conduct — yes, he does. He has one that he was convicted of when he was 19 years old for having kids, a set of twins,” Chapman said. “And does he come over here all the time? Yes, he does. He’s my cousin.”
She said many of her family members struggle with homelessness.
“Just because you look at my family as criminals and thugs and gangsters — they don’t treat my kids like that. They don’t act that way when they come over here,” Chapman said.
According to the official order of summary suspension, Chapman also said two household members, including the one allegedly convicted of criminal sexual conduct, used cocaine and were violent with each other.
LARA said federal authorities in December issued a charge of conspiracy to possess or transfer a machine gun against another adult in the home. The day after the case worker learned this, LARA said, that adult was removed from the home in handcuffs on an outstanding warrant.
Chapman said the family member was ordered to be at the home during a probationary period for failing to pay a traffic fine.
In its order of suspension, LARA said Chapman also provided inaccurate information to a staff member about some of the people living in the home, saying some were only visiting. According to the document, she also misidentified the person who was later taken away in handcuffs.
According to the document, a LARA staff member visiting the home in May saw clutter, dirt, a hole in the ceiling due to a water leak and a cracked playroom floor with pieces missing.
“When they first came out, I was in the middle of decluttering the attic,” Chapman said. “So when she says the house wasn’t clean or whatever, and I told her this when she came out, we had like maybe 20 totes in the dining room. We had some on the porch, and we were decluttering my grandmother’s stuff so we can have a yard sale, which we did this past weekend.”
Chapman also allegedly said there were mice in the home, according to the official order.
“We have had some mice, but we don’t have bedbugs, nor roaches,” Chapman told News 8.
The LARA staff member also said she saw a “large jar of marijuana” in the living room that was accessible to children, according to the document. A small jar of marijuana was found in June, the document said.
“My cousins and them got the house raided twice for running a drug house, and the only thing they found in the house was marijuana roaches,” Chapman said. “Nobody was ever convicted.”
In July of last year, three people were injured in a shooting at the Benjamin Avenue home, Grand Rapids police confirmed.
Chapman told News 8 she has called the police on multiple relatives who would not leave the home.
“They were staying for a few days, and then they wouldn’t leave. So I eventually had to give them an eviction notice as well,” Chapman said.
She said some family members may have been upset with her for calling the police to remove them from the home.
“They called Child Protective Service and said that we beat the kids, that we burned the kids with cigarettes. I don’t even smoke cigarettes,” Chapman said.
She told News 8 many of the children she babysits are her grandchildren and said she plans to appeal the summary suspension.
“As far as the house not being a safe place for kids … no child has ever been hurt in my house. No child has ever been burned. No child has ever been hit,” Chapman said. “The kids eat every day. We have food, we have electricity, we have water. No child has ever been harmed in my care, ever.”
“I’m just working, and I want to take care of my grandkids,” she said. “So whether I get paid for it or not, my grandkids are still going to be over here.”
Chapman is the president of the Martin Luther King Park Neighborhood Association.