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County wants day care closed

(ran SS edition of Metro & State)

Hillsborough County officials filed court papers Friday asking a judge to shut down an unlicensed day care center where a 7-week-old baby died this week.

Twelve other children were being cared for in the center when Damon Sykes died Tuesday afternoon.

The court papers claim that allowing the day care center to continue operating would endanger "the health, safety and welfare of the children in the care of the defendants."

The day care, run by James and Linda Robinson, was not licensed by the state. For that reason, the business had not been inspected and the owners had not undergone criminal background checks.

The Robinsons, also known as Linda and James Robertson, could not be reached for comment Friday.

Linda Robinson found Damon lying on his stomach and not breathing about noon Tuesday at the center at 101 Jeffrey Drive in Brandon. He had vomit on his mouth and face. She called 911 but emergency workers could not revive him. Investigators discovered that 12 other children were staying at the day care at the time, including three under 1 year of age.

State and county rules state that a maximum of 10 children can be cared for at the same time in a family child care home.

Linda Stoller, the manager of the Hillsborough County child care licensing program, said earlier this week that her department had received a complaint about the home in April 2001.

Upon investigation, though, she said officials had determined that the homeowners were not being paid to watch the children and that some of the children were relatives.

Since then, officials have received information that the Robinsons were, indeed, being paid by some of their clients. The Department of Children and Families is still investigating.

_ Times news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Graham Brink can be reached at (813) 226-3365 or brinksptimes.com.

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