Columbia daycare center crumbles after employees leave

Related Story

COLUMBIA - Child care owners were left scrambling Tuesday after employees at a daycare said they weren't planning on returning to work.

Employees at The Playground in Columbia said they have not been receiving their salary, and starting Wednesday, Nov. 26, they won't return to work. The employees said they called parents Tuesday and told them to pick up their children, and said they weren't coming back to work. One employee said she had been given her checks, but when she went to cash them, the checks wouldn't go through.

The owners at The Playground sent a letter to parents Friday saying the daycare would close Friday, Dec. 5. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services confirmed the state had received notice the center was closing. 

The Playground's owner Lauren Ray-Warnke said she had no idea the employees were not planning to come back to work Wednesday. She said the employees had been getting paid and she was not informed of any problems after the last issued paycheck on Nov. 15. The employees are scheduled to be paid on the first and 15th of each month.

Parents said they were surprised at the daycare closing suddenly. One parent, Melissa Bass, said in a text message she doesn't blame the employees for not coming back to work.

"I feel that the problem at The Playground is unfair to children, families and staff," Bass said. "That how everything that happened today should have never happened the way it did. I personally am left scrambling to find child care for my children last minute. I don't blame the staff; they are doing what they have to for their families."

Ray-Warnke said she is doing everything she can to accommodate the remaining parents and children since the employees do not plan to come back to work. She said the owners will stay open until the closing date, Dec. 5, and are planning to do their best to help parents find new child care for their children.