Traverse City Childcare Center Shuts Down after Licensing Violations, Leaves Parents without Sitter, Money

A Traverse City childcare center closed its doors abruptly last month after licensing violations.

Ex-employees tell us Bubblegum Childcare on Garfield road was understaffed, overpopulated and not operating with a proper license.

Bubblegum shut down on February 6, leaving many parents scrambling for a sitter before work.

Some parents tell us they’re out hundreds of dollars after paying ahead.

“Bubblegum just up and closed that day…it was just a scramble trying to find a new place for [my son],” said April Dehring, a mother of three with a toddler enrolled at Bubblegum. “We’re expecting some sort of refund because we paid ahead…There’s quite a few families out a couple hundred dollars to $500.”

Dehring and other parents have not heard back from the owner about their refunds.

9&10 reached out to the owner but has not heard back.

Bubblegum owner Erin Tiseo sent an email to parents explaining the reason for the closure just hours before they were going to drop their children off.

In an email obtained by 9&10 news, she explained that the closure happened because they did not have a license.

“We’ve gone through some staffing changes, several licensing inspections and have worked diligently as a team to get the classrooms, program and staffing all in compliance with licensing rules. Every time it seemed we were ready to switch over to our new license, a new road block appeared.”

Tiseo bought Bubblegum from a previous center with an operational daycare license. She had been using that one in the meantime while applying for her own.

Ex-employees say Bubblegum was running with too many children and not enough staff to watch them, thus breaking licensing regulations.

They also tell us working conditions were difficult, and paychecks often bounced.

“We were all working 10 hour days with no breaks, nothing,” said former assistant director Maitland Adams. “I still have not received my final paycheck and it’s been a month.”

Adams says she is owed nearly $800 from the last paycheck since the childcare center closed.

“There was no reason there should have been money issues considering she never kept the daycare fully stocked with supplies,” said Adams.

Other parents say they’re just hurt and disappointed about everything that has happened in a region notorious for lack of childcare.

“No family wants to be told that day and try to find a new place…a new last minute daycare…it’s just hard,” said Dehring.

Many parents and employees reached out to 9&10 with similar complaints and some say they plan on suing the day care for what they’re owed. Others have filed complaints with the state.