Judge asks DCYF for more evidence on John Hope

Photo: Walt Buteau/WPRI-TV

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A judge has upheld the R.I. Department of Children, Youth and Families’ determination that the John Hope Settlement House violated rules related to its day care license, but has ordered the agency to collect more evidence to decide whether the license should be revoked.

DCYF revoked John Hope’s license in February after discovering an employee was working at its day care center despite being barred by the agency. John Hope has been fighting the move in court.

In a decision issued Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Richard Licht said DCYF’s “determination that John Hope committed the violations charged was supported by substantial evidence in the record.” But he said he had “insufficient information to determine that the revocation of John Hope’s license was not arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion.”

Licht sent the dispute back to DCYF, asking the agency to create “a more thorough record” of evidence that “will allow this court to determine whether revocation was or was not an arbitrary or capricious sanction.”

DCYF spokeswoman Kerri White said the agency thinks Licht’s decision is “appropriate,” adding, “We look forward to the opportunity to present further evidence at the administrative hearing. DCYF’s number one priority is the safety and well-being of children.”

Jameela Dunston, chair of John Hope’s board, said in a statement that the board “is committed to fulfilling our obligations and to ensuring the highest quality of childcare standards for our students and their families.” She continued, “We look forward to servicing the children entrusted to our care with the highest commitment to improve practices and policies in compliance with DCYF mandates.”

State Rep. Anastasia Williams, D-Providence, recently stepped down as chair of John Hope. In March, a report ordered by House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello documented serious financial problems at the nonprofit, which has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from taxpayers over the years.