Romulus group child care home used fly swatters, hot and cold water as punishment, report says

A group child care home in Romulus can no longer operate after Michigan's licensing agency revoked its license following allegations of misconduct.

Audio from home run by Shelley Macfarlane catches the licensee berating kids under her care and using prohibited forms of discipline, including a fly swatter, was acquired during an investigation. 

In one specific clip, the licensee can be heard yelling at kids and telling them "I don't wanna hear a word out of either one of you, I'm going to bust you in the mouth."

A report from the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs' investigation into the matter detailed several instances where MacFarlane used "profanity and degrading language, hitting children with fly swatters, and spray water as a form of discipline."

As a result, Macfarlane can no longer operate a group child care home and is required to inform all parents and children in her care that her license has been suspended. 

"It was critical to take emergency action to protect the health, welfare, and safety of the children at the Macfarlane group child care home," read a release from LARA and the Child Care Licensing Bureau.

The investigation into Macfarlane's group home, located on Washington Street in Romulus, began May 13 after audio of a child care staff member's behavior was recorded on a child's computer a day earlier. The investigation offers partially-redacted transcripts of Macfarlane, including:

  • "It doesn’t matter, sit your [redacted] down, why would you sit there, sit down, get back here and shut the [redacted] up. I don’t wanna hear a word out of either one of you, I’m going to bust you in the mouth."
  • While children were arguing and crying in the background, [redacted] said, "Enough, what are you crying about?" One of the children responded, "You hurt me." [redacted] asked, "Who hurt you?" and the child responded, "You." [redacted] said, "Right and you going to cry five minutes later, shut up, dry it up, shut up."

A licensing consultant conducting an on-site investigation interviewed Macfarlane, an unidentified employee, and several of the kids that are part of the home.

In one interview, a child said that when they got in trouble, the unidentified employee would hit children in the back of the head with a fly swatter. Another child said the employees would spray children with hot and cold water as punishment.

RELATED: Romulus child care worker's license suspended for allegedly using 'prohibited means of discipline'

In another interview, a child said the operators were rough with babies, "grabbing them by the arms and throwing them into high chairs."

The home has been in operation for 20 years. 

The investigation concludes the group home was in violation of improper care and wrongful forms of punishment. 

The license suspension means an administrative hearing will be scheduled before a judge to further hear the case.