An Athens preschool and daycare center has officially closed its doors after half a dozen staff members walked off the job when their paychecks were delayed.
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According to an article by the Athens Banner-Herald, Little Ones Academy on Atlanta Highway has notified the state government it has voluntarily closed its doors.
“The closing applies both to the pre-school operation, which included pre-kindergarten classes, and the separate daycare operation, according to a spokesman for the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning,” the article reads. “The closing comes two weeks after a half-dozen staff members walked off the job when their paychecks were delayed. The walkout left the daycare center — pre-school operations had not started at the time — without adequate staffing, so the remaining staff had to call parents to pick up their children.”
Janet LaFave, owner of Little Ones Academy, told the ABH at the time of the walk off that paychecks were delayed because the business had not received an expected reimbursement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Child and Adult Food Care Program, which she had planned to use to cover all the payroll expenses.
“The Department of Early Care and Learning, though which the federal funds are processed, confirmed the reimbursements were delayed, but the spokesman went on to say that using the nutrition funds to cover payroll costs could be a problematic application of the money. LaFave indicated at the time of the delay it was a common practice for Little Ones Academy to use the federal nutrition dollars to cover payroll expenses,” the article reads.
The staff walkout did trigger a state investigation at Little Ones Academy, the ABH reports. In an email response to the newspaper, the state agency spokesman said it is the understanding of the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning that LaFave is retiring after 24 years in the childcare business.
In addition to the Atlanta Highway location, LaFave operated a second Little Ones Academy on Barnett Shoals Road on the east side of Athens-Clarke County, according to the ABH. That location was offered for sale some time before the incident earlier this month at the westside location, and a for-sale sign remained at the eastside location on Monday.