NC gubernatorial candidate Mark Robinson and wife were cited by DHHS for falsifying criminal background checks

In a 2023 interview with the Carolina Journal, North Carolina’s infamous gubernatorial hopeful Mark Robinson was asked about his previous work experience and what his various jobs had taught him.

Positively beaming with pride, Robinson talked about the Greensboro daycare center he and his wife Yolanda Hill operated for years and what it was like to be 100% responsible for everything that happened in a small business.

Robinson’s official Lieutenant Governor website bio also mentions the daycare center, boasting Robinson was “blessed to start, run, and sell a successful small business with his wife.”

However, Department of Health and Human Services documentation first reported on by the News and Observer’s Ned Barnett paint a very different picture of Precious Beginnings daycare center.

Those documents, which I retrieved via public records request and are published here for the first time, chronicle multiple complaints and citations ranging from lack of supervision to falsifying credentials including criminal background qualification letters.

And rather than ending by proudly selling “a successful small business,” these records indicate Robinson and Hill closed the daycare after learning that the DHHS investigation against them would go away only if they never worked in child care in North Carolina again.

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Robinson and Hill operated Precious Beginnings from 2000 to 2007, filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy in January of 2003.

In November 2005, an unannounced annual compliance visit by the NC Division of Child Development and Early Education found twelve violations, including failure to refrigerate baby formula, improper storage of medication, and failure to meet required staff/child ratios.

The following year officials returned, this time to investigate allegations of “the operator’s attempt to falsify information.”

According to the after visit summary, which you can read in its entirely below, Robinson was running the show that day–much to the chagrin of the inspector, who said Robinson wasn’t qualified to be in charge.

Among the 20 violations found, the report says “The owner and the husband of the owner have not been qualified by the Criminal Records Unit of the Division of Child Development. This is a violation of a requirement in G.S. 110-90.2(b).

The November 14, 2006 after visit summary ends by saying “Due to the number of violations cited today, an Administrative Action may be recommended.”

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About seven months later, in June 2007, inspectors returned to Precious Beginnings for an unannounced visit after being unable to contact the daycare center by phone.

The daycare was in operation that day, but Yolanda Hill told inspectors that she was in the process of selling the business “due to personal/family reasons” and that “she and her husband do not intend to remain in child care.”

Officials reminded Hill that “a proposed Administrative Action is underway against your license because of the violation cited during a complaint investigation on 11/14/06 regarding attempts to falsify information regarding Credential Certificates.”

The report goes on to explain that Hill and Robinson somehow had the mandatory North Carolina Early Childhood Credential Certificates in their files despite the fact that DHHS “does not have record of having issued credentials.”

It also shows the pair were in possession of Criminal Records Qualifying letters even though North Carolina’s Criminal Records Unit “does not have record of having ever received criminal records forms nor issuing qualifying letters to you or your husband.”

The visit summary ends by informing Hill and Robinson that the administrative action against their license would proceed “as long as you are the owner of this facility,” and that it could come back to haunt them “in the event that you apply for a child care license in the future.”

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But remember, according to Mark Robinson, the end of Precious Beginnings in 2007 was just he and his wife choosing to sell a “successful small business.”

In his memoir Robinson has said running the daycare was “a fantastic experience” but that “government regulations” made it hard and that his wife decided to close the business because she “no longer wanted to deal with the frustrations of running the daycare under so much red tape.”

North Carolina state law requires that the criminal history of all child care providers be checked upon initial employment and every five years thereafter “for the safety and well-being of children.”

Hopefully even those who rail against overbearing “government regulations” can agree that knowing whether we have criminals working with children is important, and having legitimate criminal background checks rather than falsifying them is how we keep children safe.

That’s the kind of “red tape” we should all want government to regulate.

Mark Robinson’s communications director calls the News and Observer’s coverage of this chapter of Robinson’s life “cherry-picking a few minor violations and clerical errors to grind a political ax.”

But falsifying criminal background checks sure seems a lot more serious than a “minor violation.”

It indicates serious character flaws with a man who wants to be North Carolina’s next governor, and voters who will be deciding that matter in November deserve to know about it.

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