PONCHA SPRINGS, Colo. — A Poncha Springs child care facility is closed until further notice, and two staff members face criminal charges following a complaint filed with the Chaffee County Department of Human Services (DHS).

The Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office and DHS responded Tuesday to The Schoolhouse, a child care facility operated by Chaffee Child Care Initiative in Poncha Springs, after DHS received a complaint of lack of supervision.

DHS investigators told staff members about the situation, and parents were told to pick up their children.

Following initial interviews, criminal charges were filed against two staff members, the sheriff’s office announced Thursday.

Roberta Rodriguez, 45, of Buena Vista and Amy Lovato, 40, of Salida are accused of failure to report child abuse or neglect and knowingly placing a child in a situation that poses a threat of injury. Both are Class 2 misdemeanor offenses, according to the sheriff’s office.

Jason Flores-Williams, attorney for Lovato, issued a statement saying, “We intend to vigorously defend Ms. Lovato against from this baseless rush to judgment. My client has done nothing but contribute decency, caring, and kindess to the Salida community.”

The Colorado Department of Early Childhood (CDEC) suspended The Schoolhouse’s license Wednesday as it conducts its own investigation, and the facility “will remain closed until further notice, pending the final outcome of the investigation and any measures required to address compliance with childcare licensing regulations,” the sheriff’s office said.

The CDEC will work with affected families to connect them with alternative childcare options.

The sheriff’s office says there is no affiliation between Chaffee Child Care Initiative and Salida Public Schools.

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