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Lodi daycare provider does not plan to appeal loss of license

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Posted: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 12:15 pm | Updated: 6:15 am, Thu Feb 23, 2012.

Dorothy "Dottie" Bernhoft of Lodi is not appealing the loss of her daycare license, according to officials with the California Department of Social Services.

Bernhoft's deadline to submit any sort of documentation to fight the license revocation was Tuesday, according to Michael Weston, spokesman for the department.

Bernhoft is currently facing a lifetime daycare ban by the department for multiple code violations.

During a 4 1/2 hour visit at Bernhoft's home on Jan. 31, department investigators reported that they found infants to be without supervision and supposedly crying, buckled in car seats in darkened closets and a bathroom with the door shut.

Bernhoft was also found to have one child strapped into its car-seat placed in a closet that also contained two loaded shotguns and ammunition, the report said.

Following the investigation, the department notified Bernhoft that she was facing a permanent license revocation and that until this week, she had time to appeal the decision.

However, the department never received any type of appeal request from Bernhoft, Weston said.

Now, Weston said the department can move forward with completing the ban that would prohibit Bernhoft from ever providing daycare for children of any age.

The process requires filing of paperwork and a notification to Bernhoft of the revocation, Weston said, before the process is complete.

Bernhoft voluntarily gave up her license during the unannounced January visit by the Department of Social Services, after a complaint by an anonymous individual was filed against her in December 2011.

Bernhoft's lawyer, Stockton-based attorney Joel Perisho, would not comment on the investigation or Bernhoft. Perisho also would not comment on past allegations that had been filed against Bernhoft.

"The investigation is a very serious matter to the department," Weston said. "And when children are put at risk, we take the necessary actions that ensure that an individual providing daycare can no longer do so."

Detective Eric Bradley of the Lodi Police Department confirmed that the department is investigating a Lodi daycare operation, but declined to say whether it is the Bernhoft home.

The January visit by state evaluators was not the first time Bernhoft has dealt with departmental code allegations.

Dating as far back as the mid-1980s, a department inspection file for Bernhoft — who was first licensed in 1982 in Placer County while she and her husband lived in Roseville — reveals that she faced multiple allegations of having more than the allowable number of children.

The allegations of being "over capacity," however, were never substantiated, according to department reports.

Other allegations Bernhoft faced during the 1980s included children being punished and made to stand outside during winter months without a jacket. Though those allegations were eventually confirmed by Bernhoft, she agreed to find other forms of punishment after the department stated in its inspection file that the punishment was considered "cruel and unusual."

In September 1994, Bernhoft asked to have her license for daycare transferred to San Joaquin County when she and her family moved to their current home in Lodi.

Until 2001, very few reports within Bernhoft's inspection file note any changes, apart from one or two department inspections in which Bernhoft stated she was working full-time and had not run a daycare since moving to Lodi.

In 2008, Bernhoft decided to put her daycare license on "inactive" status through July 1, 2010. However, two months prior to the expiration of her "inactive" status, Bernhoft asked to extend it through 2013.

It was not until Dec. 20, 2011, when department personnel visited her home, that they discovered she was once again running a daycare despite the fact that she was technically not allowed to be doing so, according to reports.

During that visit, Bernhoft initially gave a false name to department personnel and told them that the individual who ran the daycare was out of the country, documents said.

However, inspectors knew Bernhoft, and eventually were allowed into her home to inspect it. Following the inspection, Bernhoft was required to update her license status and meet with the department in January to address deficiencies they had found in her home.

On Jan. 31, the department once again arrived at Bernhoft's home unannounced, and it was at that visit that the allegations made in December were validated.

Bernhoft wrote on a sheet of paper notifying the department that she was giving up her license during that visit.

Contact reporter Katie Nelson at katien@lodinews.com.

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