Daycare center Uk & Puk in Schilde has been closed since Monday on the orders of the mayor and the Growing Up Agency. “There are serious indications that the safety of the children could be in danger,” said spokesman Nele Wouters of the supervisory government, who is conducting further investigation.
Uk & Puk, a private daycare for 25 children, enjoys a solid reputation, so the parents were surprised when they received an email this weekend that their children had to go elsewhere temporarily from Monday. Nele Wouters of the Growing Up Agency confirms that the operating license has been suspended pending further investigation. “There are serious indications that the safety of the children could be at risk.”
‘After a testimony, the municipality sounded the alarm. The subsequent hearing in the town hall with our people there was not reassuring’, says Wouters. ‘Further investigation is now underway. The suspension will run until November 30, but it is possible and hopefully for the parents that there will be a decision earlier. That can be an authorization to reopen or the order for definitive closure’, says Wouters.
Olivier Verhulst (Open VLD), acting mayor when the complaint came in, confirms. “The allegation that reached both us and Growing up on Monday was sufficiently serious to immediately send the police to the scene and make the necessary determinations. I have imposed the provisional suspension by decree of the mayor. Our childcare service went on site to watch over the children until they were picked up. In the meantime, Growing up has taken over the file and, among other things, a hearing took place with the manageress in the town hall’, says Verhulst.
Nobody wants to say anything about the nature of the charges. “We find this especially annoying for the parents, who have now suddenly found themselves without shelter,” said alderman for Welfare Marian Van Alphen (Open VLD). ‘We have already arranged temporary care for sixteen children from our own municipality.’
According to ships Van Alphen, the business manager is in advanced negotiations for a transfer of Uk & Puk. ‘Hopefully the new operators will soon receive the green light from the Growing Up Agency and the closing period can be kept as short as possible,’ concludes Marian Van Alphen.