Crime

Essential Childcare abruptly closes; parents and teachers not notified

A day care in Myrtle Beach, cited for violations by the S.C. Department of Social Services at least five times this year, closed abruptly Thursday leaving several parents with no place to take their children.

One parent who had children at Essential Childcare in Myrtle Beach said no notice was given to parents or employees of the closure. Owner Stephanie Hatten and director Katie Thrower could not be reached for comment. The day care’s website, essentialchildcare.org, has been taken offline.

Jacob Pereschuk, a teacher at the school, learned Thursday the center was closed.

“I was in shock,” he said. “Now I do not have a job and I get a sick feeling to my stomach because the parents did not know [it would close] either.”

The building on Thursday afternoon was dark and empty. It’s unclear exactly why the day care closed, of if the closer was related to investigations by DSS.

DSS officials did not return phone calls Thursday.

The agency’s website shows five violations between Jan. 20 and Feb. 10 against the business that had been investigated and resolved. The details of those violations were not available on the website.

On Thursday, The Sun News obtained a copy of a report from the agency that detailed an investigation concerning alleged abuses at Essential Childcare.

Matthew Evans had his two daughters, ages 3 and 7, enrolled at the facility off U.S. 17 near Palmetto Pointe Boulevard. The girls had been attending since the middle of May and Evans said they hadn’t had any problems.

“They had a low kid count, but I didn’t see any [reviews] online to think my kids wouldn’t be safe,” Evans said. “They [my daughters] seemed to like their teachers and the place and they got enough attention because the classes were so small.”

When his wife picked the girls up on Tuesday, he said they learned the day care would be closed July 4 to July 6, though the original schedule said it would only be closed for the Fourth of July. There wasn’t even a hint that the daycare wouldn’t open its doors again until Pereschuk, who taught one of their children, called them to let them know.

Horry County police were called for a larceny complaint Thursday morning, but specific details of the reported crime were not available.

Evans is worried about what his kids were too afraid to tell him.

Evans said he wants his money, about $250, back.

“Basically, we paid $125 for summer camp along with the $125 weekly fee,” he said. “Now she doesn’t get to go to the water park that we paid summer passes for, or the movies she was supposed to go to.

“We’re out that money. These days, $100 means something.”

Today, Evans said his family was lucky that one child could stay with grandparents and another with a friend. He said he’ll look for another day care differently.

“I’m going to want a background check on every employee and the owners,” he said. “It will cost me a lot of money but I’m not going to take that chance again.”

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