WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Suspicious is the word some neighbors used to refer to a daily ritual in front of the Briar Bay community in West Palm Beach.
A tip led WPTV to the gated community and our cameras captured kids in front of the community picked up and taken inside the gates. Hours later, the children were loaded into a car from a home and taken outside the gates to their waiting parents.
The HOA told WPTV its investigation actually started weeks before when someone posted a flier on the community bulletin board---and online---using photos of the pool, splash pad, and playground.
Then security saw a sudden uptick in guests with young children visiting the same unit -- morning and late afternoon. The HOA banned the cars from coming and going and the ritual began.
West Palm Beach police and then the Palm Beach County Health Department investigated and called it an unlicensed daycare and ordered it shut down immediately.
"I have concerns the children in the daycare may be in danger," said one neighbor who did not want to be identified.
The cease and desist order was sent in mid-February to Kierra Stevens and Miesha Octavius.
Documents show Stevens told the health department that she was babysitting her friend's kid, but the health department listed the violations, including operating without a license and advertising the business without that license. All owners, operators, and employees must pass a background check to obtain one. But Miesha Octavius, who owns the home used for childcare, is a convicted felon from Georgia who was found guilty of aggravated assault.
Octavius did not want to respond when WPTV asked her if she was operating an unlicensed daycare.
There's also a pit bull mix at the house. Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control cited Octavius for not properly confining the dog after a report it went after another neighborhood dog.
"I just think when I left my children in daycare, if somebody out there had known this was unlicensed daycare or possibly a danger to my children, I wish that they would have spoken up and let me know," the neighbor told us.
The cease and desist orders violations must be corrected immediately. The childcare operators received a summons to appear before the Palm Beach County Environmental Control Hearing Board or circuit court. They're subjected to fines up to $500/day, per violation.
The online advertisement for the business, Kind Kids Daycare and Learning Laboratory, shows it is permanently closed. On last check, the health department said it appears operations have ceased.