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Caught Running Unlicensed Youth Center, RIOC Polishes the Crime

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For over two years, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) ran an unlicensed Youth Center. They got caught and shut down, and then, in an obscure press release, proclaimed a triumph when they finally got a license. But as of this month, the state’s Division of Child Services cites them for no fewer than nine uncorrected violations.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

When you think about the national disgrace of misinformation, you may regard Russian trolls, extremists or business scams. But the trend in political coverups and misdirection may take the cake.

In the political world, transparency gets cloudy, accountability scarce. This gambit by RIOC is a prime example.

An Unlicensed Youth Center

When the Roosevelt Island Youth Center abruptly shut down a few weeks ago, no announcement informed families or the community. RIOC’s entrenched “never admit a mistake” credo went into overdrive.

At a board meeting at the end of December, President/CEO Seldom Seen Shelton J. Haynes’s President’s Report cheerily announced that RIOC was getting a SACC license, never mentioning any shutdown or violations. (A SACC license allows for offsite daycare with more than seven kids, which RIOC did since as long ago as 2019.)

Youth Center Director, Ana Medina, when asked about the closing said, “I need better people,” whatever that means. Presumably, it didn’t mean more ethical or honest.

In the appalling press release, Medina said, “I applaud President Haynes for his out-of-the-box thinking to further support our Island children with the enhanced services the SACC license will grant Roosevelt Island families.”

It doesn’t do that, but it does “kiss the ring” as demanded as loyalty, according to RIOC staff.

“Wasn’t a License required for the last couple of years?  I think even if you babysit 3 or more kids at your home you need a license.  So how did they operate outside the law?” an insider wondered.

“It was something Susan (Rosenthal) was working on when she left. But I think RIOC hired Ana during the summer of 2020 and the center re-opened in the spring of 2021.  I also think Shelton was charged with getting the SACC license.”

“They should have applied as soon as they took over” in 2019, another noted. “Seems like a long time.”

A request for information sent to RIOC’s Communications AVP, Akeep Jamal, went unanswered

Amateur Night on Roosevelt Island

Jamal, hired last summer in a deal with Governor Kathy Hochul, is learning on the job. The unlicensed Youth Center press release is all over the place with unverified claims about new revenue and training, but it’s also too long and imprecise. It’s big on praise for Haynes and short on any word about the shutdown or when it might end.

It’s not, of course, Jamal’s job to give an objective report. His job demands informing the community about RIOC’s operations. No one expects him to rat out his boss, but misinformation should not be part of the deal.

This is amateur night stuff and, again, calls into question why he was hired.

About the Program Haynes and Company Salute

As of this report, the state cites nine violations at the Roosevelt Island Youth Center. All involve the safety of the children in RIOC’s care, and none have been corrected since a January 4th inspection.

“The Roosevelt Island Youth Center is a cornerstone in the community – cherished by the many families and, most importantly, our little learners,” said President & CEO Shelton J. Haynes.

RIOC Press Release, January 17th, 2023.

So, President Haynes, why have you operated illegally without a license, including during your time as Chief Operating Officer and CEO? The buck stops with you, doesn’t it?

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