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Lodi day care provider Dorothy Bernhoft gives up license

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Posted: Friday, February 3, 2012 11:11 am | Updated: 8:57 am, Sat Feb 11, 2012.

State officials are moving to permanently revoke a Lodi woman's child care license after they say they found multiple violations in her home. The alleged violations range from having too many children in her care to placing some infants in darkened closets.

Dorothy Bernhoft has been licensed to run daycare programs since 1982.

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  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 4:21 am on Wed, Feb 22, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Sorry Katie, cannot say yes or no to your statement. It is very vague and lacks the details for me to make a comment.
    For example, If my child did not display normal child development at any stage, I would seek professional advise and guidance for my child. I think if a parent did not take prudent steps on a timely bases, maybe the parent is negligent.
    In my families case, our children were not out of our site for the first 5 years for more than 4 hours in any one day... so we were very careful and watches all phases like a hawk.

  • Katie Varni posted at 10:41 pm on Wed, Feb 15, 2012.

    healthnut82 Posts: 5

    Darrell: I have a question for you, and a simple yes or no will do.
    Would you consider it a form of child abuse if a child was not able to walk until he/she was 19 months old and it was proven to be caused by intentionally keeping the child excessively immobile as an infant?

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 1:58 pm on Sat, Feb 11, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Mr Banas... thank you for your considerate post and reply below. You are very correct that many times I restate myself where it basically adds up to the same thing. In communicating in these posts, I have found that explaining a topic that is first misunderstood, that some readers reading a restated thought in a different slant sometimes does the trick in helping to comprehend the original point.

    As far as explaining my reasoning, I was hoping you would comment on this particular thread as to what I said that was difficult to follow. You are just the kind of person I learn best from and if I can improve my communication skills, I would be pleased. Thank you for your perspective.

  • Richard Banas II posted at 10:26 pm on Fri, Feb 10, 2012.

    Richard Banas II Posts: 11 Staff

    Mr. Baumbach: There are far too many of your comments on a variety of issues for me to single out any one particular thread with which I have trouble following your line of thinking. I do understand your points behind most of your comments and while I grasp your concepts, there are times where I wonder at how you arrived at your conclusions. With all due respect, I doubt any further explaining on your behalf would clarify the issue since it appears that it usually consists of you restating your position without adding any new perspective. Having said that, however, in all fairness, you are not the only one on here whose postings I have difficulties understanding, hence the polarization and speculation comment..

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 8:20 am on Fri, Feb 10, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Jay, as a father of three, I actually agree with everything you stated in your last post.
    I was one of those parents that refused to go out at night and leave my children with a baby sitter because I wanted to make sure everything was safe for my children. My life was my children.

    I think any parent who perceives that someone would cause harm to their child would aggressively take action to make sure their child was protected.

    But like you said, We don't know when the "alleged" abuse started, we don't know which children, if any, were subjected to it. I mentioned the McMartin case because the lives of the childcare providers were destroyed unfairly because of the fear and perceived harm the children were suspected of experiencing.

    I am sorry if my comments appear to be insensitive to the feelings and fears of the parents who should be concerned.

    I am concerned for the welfare of the children, but I am also concerned that Dottie have a fair chance to defend and explain what happened.

    My suspicion of the report was its vagueness. For example, the report indicated the car seat with a child in it for an extended period of time. To some, an extended period of time may be 10 minutes... to others, it may be 5 hours. It did not also state if it was a one time event or a repeated action. Until more information is disclosed, people may be fearing the worst for nothing like in the McMartin case. The innocent children suffered from this fear as years went by where their total focus was on a fictitious event.

  • Jay Samone posted at 7:32 am on Fri, Feb 10, 2012.

    Jay Samone Posts: 359

    Darrell, we can agree to disagree on the first point, but I wanted to comment on the McMartin Preschool case. I do remember it and I think it is an excellent case in mass hysteria, the failure of psychology in abuse cases and public outrage at allegations against children. There are similar facets in this case, but there are far more that aren't. There are those that had wonderful experiences with her and those that haven't. We don't know when the "alleged" abuse started, we don't know which children were subjected to it, and those on here who defend her may have had an excellent experience with her. However, the parents I know did not and are heartbroken that their child/ren were in danger the second they dropped them off in the mornings and angry they were lied to about their child/ren's care. As another poster stated, word of mouth is what counts. When I put my daughter in daycare at 2 mo old, I looked at several homes and "centers" before finding one that I felt would be beneficial for us. Some of these came "highly recommended" and I couldn't get out of there fast enough thinking I wonder if these families know the condition of this home/the lack of care (two babies crying in a single crib the entire time I was there "touring") - I could go on. Bottom line - there's much more to this story than is being reported and that's the problem with media - they only share so much and that in itself creates speculation.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 2:41 am on Fri, Feb 10, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Glad to help if I can Richard. What specific reasoning in my posts in this thread would you like to have explained.

    May I ask, since my intent is to share thought and ideas through a debate process, how would you suggest avoiding polarization with people who already are polarized no matter if I have 0 posts or 5000.

    Lastly, you state there comes a time where all the speculation should end. That is hard to follow on this thread as it relates to me because I have been asking for the speculation concerning this situation to end and let the investigation continue so that people can know what really happened instead of speculation.

  • Richard Banas II posted at 8:16 pm on Thu, Feb 9, 2012.

    Richard Banas II Posts: 11 Staff

    Mr. Baumbach: I seldom comment on these blogs and while everyone is certainly entitled to his or her own opinion, there comes a time when all of the speculation should end. I think after 5,626 (5,626!!) of your posts to the LNS, most of us know your polarizing public views on a variety of subjects. I can't speak for anybody else and I don't know you personally but I must say that it is hard to follow your line of reasoning on some of these issues.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 6:51 pm on Thu, Feb 9, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Jay, I respect your opinion and always appreciate your perspective. However, I do disagree with you in this particular situation.

    Until this report came out, no concern or complaints were made. I still have not seen any evidence that one child was hurt or injured. I think it appropriate to investigate and leave no stone unturned to determine what happened. I would imagine that each parent would be interviewed who has had experience with Dottie. Like you said, as children age, they talk. I'm sure that there are enough people to interview that eventually a clear picture will be made.
    Do you remember the McMartin preschool trial. There were damning reports that basically caused the general public to demand death to these child care providers. These people did not wait for the evidence to develop and this ended without one conviction after the prosecution spent 15 million in the 80's...

    For me, the report is not evidence and may be false. I still maintain that until the case is worked and developed, we are in the opinion stage.

    All I ask for is patience and time to discover what is true. I ask people to consider that what is in the report may be wrong. The investigation will determine what truth is better. For this, I am a moron.

  • Jay Samone posted at 3:27 pm on Thu, Feb 9, 2012.

    Jay Samone Posts: 359

    Darrell, while there are those that appreciate diplomacy for those not tried and convicted, you are incorrect in assuming that those who have firsthand knowledge are just opinionated - at least in this case.

    As you know, I have a toddler and while I have the occasional "issue" with my current daycare provider, they are nowhere near the issues of these stated here. I can say that my daughter comes home with dirt on her shoes, food on her shirt and paint under her fingernails and as much as it aggravates me because I try to take care of her clothes and keep her shoes clean, I am thankful she's not stuck in a dark room without other human interraction. I know two individuals personally who's children were under her care and will never be again. Remember as children get older, they learn to talk. When they learn to talk, they tell mommy or daddy about what goes on during the day - that would be part of the reason for the original complaint. There's no reason for her actions and who knows what the longterm damage done to the infants will ever be. Infants left in carseats for lengthy periods of time prevents their neck muscles from strengthening, prevents proper bone growth and possibly causes detachment disorders because of lack of human interraction.

    LNS removed my original post that expressed my complete outrage over this incident, so I'll say it alittle nicer: had that been my daycare provider - she wouldn't need worry about surrendering her license, but whether she'd be eating strained beef or chicken for dinner - IF she wasn't strapped into a carseat all day herself.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 8:06 am on Thu, Feb 9, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Andrew stated...Unfortunately, Darrell Baumbach is opinionated rather than informed.

    I read the same report you read Andrew.
    However, I do not take for granted and assume that the information is accurate. Appearances can be deceiving and reports can be mistaken.
    Everything very well may be truth as stated in the reports, I do not know. I do not have an opinion one way or the other.
    I have stated from day one that the evidence needs to be evaluated and interviews need to take place. I think it is you and Katie Varni that are "opinionated" . In your opinions, the accused is already guilty, no further discussion need take place, no analysis needs to be completed, just lock Dottie up and throw away the key.

    You think you are well informed and accidentally, you might be, but on the other hand, you both could be terribly wrong and owe an apology to Dotty and her family.

    I cannot possibly give an appropriate opinion now as that would be acting emotionally and saying something that would be without merit. Obviously, you and Katie feel comfortable with your
    limited informed opinions... I have better sense than to assume the reports are accurate. I would rather wait for both sides to present their case and see if any charges are made by the authorities. If charges are made, detailed evidence will become apparent. There has not even been one claim yet that any child suffered in any way. Please have the decency to let the system work.

  • Katie Varni posted at 11:29 am on Tue, Feb 7, 2012.

    healthnut82 Posts: 5

    Andrew- Yes, I can see that... The 5, 580 posts speaks volumes. But then again, I have trouble with reading.

  • Andrew Liebich posted at 9:08 am on Tue, Feb 7, 2012.

    Andrew Liebich Posts: 2999

    Mrs. Varni,
    Unfortunately, Darrell Baumbach is opinionated rather than informed. The court documents you eluded to are public record and I have suggested he read them on more than one occassion. Instead, he continues to display his ignorance regarding this matter.

  • Katie Varni posted at 6:59 am on Tue, Feb 7, 2012.

    healthnut82 Posts: 5

    Oh, and just in case you'd like to read a different piece on this ~ by Kathy Reid:

    "The complaints led to an unannounced visit to the home Monday by the department's Community Care Licensing Division. The investigators lodged a complaint of their own after finding children strapped into their car seats and placed inside cribs of a darkened bedroom, infants in car seats in darkened closets with the doors shut, and one child in a restroom with the lights out and the door shut.

    In some cases, children were left near firearms, scissors and plastic bags. Some children would eat the insulation of their car seats when left unattended, court documents state."

  • Katie Varni posted at 6:50 am on Tue, Feb 7, 2012.

    healthnut82 Posts: 5

    What Darrell B stated... Clearly you have difficulty reading an entire post because if you did, you would see that my knowledge about this story goes beyond what was actually written in this one article; I used this as an outlet to express my own opinion and share what I know in addition to this report. You can at least show some compassion to the parents who are struggling with the fact that they feel betrayed on how this so-called wonderful daycare was actually being run. I guess your standards of childcare differ greatly than mine and all I can be thankful for is that you don't run a daycare yourself. And please, if you're going to address me by my name, spell it correctly -Mrs. Varni

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 7:04 pm on Mon, Feb 6, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    What Katie Varni stated...Locking infants in a room of any sort with the lights off and radio blaring is wrong...

    What the article stated... The alleged violations range from having too many children in her care to placing some infants in darkened closets...
    and then the article stated... The complaint goes on to state that investigators found radios playing in the house, making it difficult for Bernhoft to hear the infants or children crying or calling for her.

    Clearly, Ms Varie has trouble with reading and is confused as to what the artticle actually stated. Nowhere does it state that anybody was “locked” in or state that music was blaring...

  • Katie Varni posted at 3:59 pm on Mon, Feb 6, 2012.

    healthnut82 Posts: 5

    I'm sorry, but being this woman's neighbor of 15 years does not mean you know what goes on behind closed doors; there's only so much get to know about a person from being a neighbor or unfortunately even a parent of the kids of whom she provided for. There are many neighbors and people you meet who seem just great but turn out to be sex offenders, serial killers, rapists - you name it.
    I personally know a lot of parents in the Lodi community right now who have used Dotty for daycare recently or in the past and are completely devastated and disturbed; and who can blame them? Locking infants in a room of any sort with the lights off and radio blaring is wrong. If you think this is an appropriate method of "taking care" of infants (more like, getting them out of the way), then you too need to get your head checked or perhaps get CPS called on you.
    There's much more to this than just the disturbing closet situation. Apparently there were bags of unused diapers found in the house because she hardly or rarely fed the children enough to even need to go to the bathroom; perhaps that would explain why they would never get diaper rash; clothes on the child left in perfect condition from morning to pick up because they were never doing any activity to get it dirty, but instead stuck in a closet. The biggest red flag should have been her "rule" of NO DROP-INS from 9 to 4 from parents; but she had everyone duped - everyone was told she was amazing and word of mouth spreads fast. I believe the person who made the complaint was someone interested in her services and noted the illegal ratio of provider per child and was concerned about why her daycare license was expired. That person did what any mother or father should do. She deserves a fair trial but you can't deny the truth.

  • Brian Dockter posted at 7:25 am on Mon, Feb 6, 2012.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2866


    The Phoenix metro area, which includes many suburbs such as Scottsdale isn't really much different than any other large metro area in the country. In fact, my wife and I went to a small superbowl party in Paradise Valley, an uspscale suburb of Phoenix. Overall, Phoenix is a great place to live. If you like Sacramento, you'd probably like Phoenix.

  • Steve Schmidt posted at 5:18 am on Mon, Feb 6, 2012.

    Steve Schmidt Posts: 2685

    Ah... Brian, disregard that last comment. I was just being an asp.

    Honestly, I have had some terrific times visiting friends in Flagstaff and Gallup but I haven't seen much that attracted me in the rest of the state. I guess golf just isn't my game.

  • Steve Schmidt posted at 2:37 pm on Sun, Feb 5, 2012.

    Steve Schmidt Posts: 2685

    I just thought everyone in Arizona lived in strip malls.

    If there is a "nice" part of that state (other than Flagstaff), I haven't been to it.

  • Brian Dockter posted at 2:06 pm on Sun, Feb 5, 2012.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2866


    Was it you gut instinct telling you I must live in a strip mall to be crazy enough to believe this woman is being railroaded?

  • Brian Dockter posted at 1:47 pm on Sun, Feb 5, 2012.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2866


    I don't know where you got that info. I happen to live in a townhouse with my wife and 2 children in Central Scottsdale in a fairly upscale neighborhood. And, actually, I've always been interested in the goings on in Lodi. There's this element that I was born and raised there.

    Perhaps you're just being tongue and cheek with your STUPID remark. I'll excuse you. You do have a lot of those moments.

  • Steve Schmidt posted at 9:21 am on Sun, Feb 5, 2012.

    Steve Schmidt Posts: 2685

    Brian, for a guy who lives in a strip mall in Phoenix, you sure do seem to have an awful lot of interest in a case in Lodi. Are you somehow related to Ms. Bernhoft?

  • Steve Schmidt posted at 9:20 am on Sun, Feb 5, 2012.

    Steve Schmidt Posts: 2685

    Why would someone lock a baby in a dark closet strapped into a car seat?

    I don't know any of the players in this case but if that particular charge proves true, it would seem like a fair basis for criminal charges.

  • Ben Delph posted at 9:17 am on Sun, Feb 5, 2012.

    lifeisgood Posts: 1

    Dottie took wonderful care of my children for 5 years. I had complete trust in her and still do. By the way, that "closet" is larger than most people's bedrooms. My children never had diaper rash. How do we know it isn't the parents or other caregivers who aren't changing the diapers? The true motive behind the finger pointing needs to be looked at.

  • Brian Dockter posted at 9:03 am on Sun, Feb 5, 2012.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2866

    Cathy wrote:

    It seems to me the investigation might take a hard look at the person who originally called in the complaint.

    -Yep, this could be quite revealing.

  • Brian Dockter posted at 8:16 am on Sun, Feb 5, 2012.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2866

    Bobin wrote:

    Hopefully the parents of these infants and child will personally press charges beside whatever the state/police may do.


    These isolated incidents were reported with malicious intent and whoever did the reporting will have their day in court too. Take a hike,

  • Brian Dockter posted at 8:13 am on Sun, Feb 5, 2012.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2866

    Ms. Bobin,

    1 or 2 children over the limit? Seems to me that's all they really have. Of course she's guilty before beiing proven innocent in your eyes. Take a hike, Bobin. You're a sad example for a human.

  • Cathy Siegmund posted at 10:51 pm on Sat, Feb 4, 2012.

    CJS Posts: 6

    I have lived next door to Dorothy "Dottie" Bernhoft for over 15 years. Dottie would be the absolute LAST person to EVER harm a child and I would trust her fully to this day, with my grandson. It seems to me the investigation might take a hard look at the person who originally called in the complaint.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 1:56 pm on Fri, Feb 3, 2012.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    This is really disgraceful - this must have been going on for quite a while before someone, thankfully, tipped-off investigators.

    And to think this woman's husband is a professional in Lodi - he had to have known what was going on.

    Hopefully the parents of these infants and child will personally press charges beside whatever the state/police may do.



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