BEND, Ore. - (Update: first court appearance; comments from state child care official)
A Bend day care operator arrested Wednesday for leaving seven young children alone while she went to a tanning salon made her first court appearance Thursday, while a state official confirmed to NewsChannel 21 she has never been certified by the state as a day care provider.
Police said they arrested January Neatherlin, also known as January Livsey and January Brooks, while other officers entered an unlocked door to her northeast Bend home and found the children ages six months to 4 years were left unsupervised.
Neatherlin appeared by video hookup from the Deschutes County Jail before Circuit Judge Bethany Flint, who set bail at $200,000 and ordered her, if released, to have no contact with any of the parties named in the initial 21-count charging document. She is due back in court on March 23 for arraignment on a formal indictment.
NewsChannel 21 learned Neatherlin had a state complaint filed against her in 2014 for illegally operating a day care with more than three children.
Dawn Woods, director of Oregon’s Early Learning Division Office of Child Care , said Thursday, “I think this is a great example of how citizens and parents can really help agencies be the eyes on the ground, to call in complaints to help us ensure the safety of young children.”
“When we receive a complaint at the Office of Child Care, if it’s of a regulatory nature, we will assign one of our field staff to go out and investigate,” Woods said.
Child care organizations are working with police on the investigation, as police work to learn if any other children were being taken care of, and whether other violations occurred.
Neatherlin’s Little Giggles Daycare was included on a list OSU-Cascades provided to students seeking financial support to offset the cost of child care. School officials said the list is supposed to only include state-registered facilities, so Little Giggles was released from the list Thursday, and the university is reviewing procedures to ensure their list is accurate.
You can check to see if a day care is licensed by going to the oregon.gov website, where they have a search tool. Type in the name of the day care center, and it will show you whether it's certified and will also show any complaints filed against it.
A northeast Bend home day care operator was arrested Wednesday after police, called out on an anonymous tip, said they found seven young children in her home, including at least four infants, who were left unsupervised while she went to a tanning salon.
Detectives began following up Wednesday on an anonymous tip that January Neatherlin, 31, also known as January Livsey, was leaving young children alone in her day care, said Lt. Jason Maniscalco.
A parent who used Neatherlin's day care until about a year ago told NewsChannel 21 Wednesday night she removed her child after she found out he was being left alone and given the drug Melatonin.
Natasha Cawood is among many who have reached out to NewsChannel 21 with information since the news broke. She said she went to police at the time, but there was not enough evidence to bring charges.
"I was disgusted and appalled. You know, she comes off very caring and nurturing," Cawood said by phone. "She's very smooth with talking, and I had never imagined that anything like that was going on with my son."
Detectives began conducting surveillance Wednesday morning at Neatherlin’s home on Blue Bush Court, near Empire Avenue and Northeast 18th Street, and watched as parents dropped off numerous children at her home, Maniscalco said.
A couple of hours later, police said detectives saw January drive away from the home and contacted her at a tanning salon, noticing she was not accompanied by the children, the lieutenant said, adding that the surveillance team believed there were at least four infants in the home, left unsupervised.
Police knocked on the door for several minutes, but no one answered. Maniscalco said they entered the home through an unlocked door “because of the potential risk of harm to the unsupervised children” and found seven children in the home, ranging in age from 6 months to 4 years old.
Detectives contacted the state Department of Human Services and then contacted the parents of the children, Maniscalco said. Due to their young ages, the parents elected to take the children to St. Charles Bend for evaluation.
Neatherlin, who online calls her facility Little Giggles Daycare, was taken to the Deschutes County Jail and lodged under the name January Livsey on 22 initial charges: seven counts each of second-degree child neglect, reckless endangering and criminal mistreatment, along with a single count of first-degree theft by deception.
Online court records indicate the woman was charged in 2008, under the name January Brooks, with numerous felony counts of ID theft, and in 2009 as Livsey with theft and criminal mischief and 2010 with first-degree forgery and ID theft.
"She has a website for this day care, and it seems pretty legit," Cawood said. "It would be really hard, if you don't know these other aliases she was under, to find this stuff out."
Cawood said she knew Neatherlin before her child was in her care, but cut off communication after what happened. Now, she said she's relieved the woman has been arrested.
"I had known January since about 2003 and we had a friendship, so therefore I did trust her with my children, and she knew my twin daughters since they were 1," Cawood said. "I am just disgusted. And she's a mother herself, so I just can't fathom it. I cannot wrap my head around it."