The owner of a Colorado daycare center and preschool faces criminal charges, including child abuse, following a six-week investigation. Carla Faith is accused of hiding neglected children behind a false wall in her home.
Three other women have also been charged, CBS News' Don Dahler reports.
The case goes back to mid-November when Colorado Springs officers pulled up to a home owned by 58-year-old Faith. They received complaints it was housing too many children and were conducting a welfare check on children she was supposed to be taking care of at her daycare, called Play Mountain Place.
When officers first arrived they say they found no children and that Faith refused to cooperate. But then they heard children's voices, and after investigating, found a false wall inside the building.
Behind the wall was a basement with two adults and 26 children, all under 3 years old, according to the arrest affidavits. Officers reported finding most of the children sweating, visibly dehydrated and with wet or soiled diapers.
CBS affiliate station KKTV spoke to parents of children in Faith's care after the facility was shut down in November.
"We all feel completely betrayed," said Jeanette Conde, a mother. "It's so hard to trust your children with people, and we felt like we could really trust them."
Police arrested Faith, Christina Swauger, Katelynne Nelson and Valerie Fresquez for child abuse. Faith, Swauger and Nelson were also charged with felonies for other crimes related to the case.
The consequences extended beyond the daycare. Faith ran a preschool nearby, and when police closed it, nearly two dozen teachers lost their jobs.
"We weren't actually associated with anything going on at Play Mountain, and that's the hardest part, was: we're getting punished," said one teacher.
"I didn't even get to say goodbye to most of my kids," another teacher said.
Faith owned four child care facilities in total in Colorado Springs. All of them have been shut down.
The Colorado Department of Human Services said she previously ran child care facilities in California that were shut down for similar reasons.
Parents who left their children in her care have filed a lawsuit claiming breach of duty of care.