June 20, 2018 10:31 PM
Authorities in Anoka County are investigating after a KinderCare employee allegedly dragged and tossed two children at the facility.
The Sheriff's Office turned over it's findings to the County Prosecutor for review to see if the incident rises to the level of a crime.
A newly released Minnesota Department of Human Services investigation determined there was maltreatment at the KinderCare Learning Center at 1485 Bunker Lane Boulevard Northwest in Andover on April 19 involving two children, ages 3 and 4.
But parents picking their kids up at the end of the day Wednesday said the DHS report is the first they've heard about the incident. Daycare staff didn't send an email or notify them.
"If there's something going on, whether physical or emotional abuse, that should be known to other parents," said Houda Johns of Andover. "That shouldn't be hidden away. They shouldn't have kept it. I've been here for a year and I didn't know."
According to the DHS report, a witness at a gas station next to the care facility reported to both the facility and law enforcement that she saw a staff member yelling at a child. The witness said the staff member grabbed the child, walked the child to the door and "kind of pushed" them against the wall, causing the child to hit the ground.
The witness said the staff member "dragged" another child to the door and "dumped [them] like a sack of potatoes," causing the child to fall face first on the ground.
The DHS investigation determined neither child was injured during the incident, but that there was evidence the staff member’s actions "represented a substantial risk of injury" to the children.
After the incident on the playground, another staff member reported during the DHS investigation that the staff member grabbed the first child again when they did not want to sit at a table. According to that staff member, the staffer under investigation "grabbed [the child] under the arms and set [them] on the carpet pretty aggressively."
The child allegedly fell backward and hit their head on the wall.
Another staff member told the DHS they had never seen the staff member handle the children roughly before, but that she had made comments about the children like calling them "brats" or "stupid."
The staff member told DHS that she picked up one of the children because they did not want to go inside from the playground. The staffer said the child was squirming and fell from her arms, but she did not intend to drop the child.
She said the child landed on their hands and knees, stood up crying and entered the facility.
The staffer said she brought the second child into the facility by carrying them "like a baby," and denied taking that child forcefully out of their chair and dropping them on the carpet. She told the DHS the other staff members were lying about that incident because they did not like her.
The staff member was a "float" staff at the facility, meaning she worked part-time in whichever classroom needed another staff person, according to the DHS report. The report also states April 19 was to be her last day at the facility, as she had gotten a new job.
After the incident on the carpet, the staff member was asked to leave for the day.
The DHS report states "all of the staff persons received training on behavior guidance and on supervision when they began working at the facility and during monthly staff meetings."
The DHS investigation determined that physical abuse did occur during the incident in question and deemed it maltreatment.
According to the DHS report, KinderCare completed an internal review and determined their "policies were adequate, but were not followed" by the staff member.
Also, the center reported the incident to state and licensing agencies. And all teachers there have since been retrained on proper child guidance.
That was welcome news to mother Ashley Dimas.
"Just being aware of how to handle kids, if they test you, especially if you don't have kids of your own," Dimas said.
The staff member no longer works at KinderCare.
The DHS cited KinderCare for two violations in connection with the incident.
The Anoka County Attorney’s Office is reviewing the case. No charging decisions have been made yet. Licensing information on child care facilities in the state can be found on the DHS website.
KinderCare released the following statement:
"At KinderCare, we work hard to provide every child with a safe, nurturing environment to learn and grow in. We never want to see a child in our care hurt and take all concerns about children’s safety seriously. We also follow a very specific protocol anytime a concern is raised. Part of that protocol includes reporting the concern to licensing and other state agencies and working with them as they look into the matter.
"After we, and our agency partners looked into this incident in April, we concluded that the actions of the teacher involved were not reflective of our commitment to the high-quality care and education we provide. Though we have policies in place to try to prevent incidents like this from happening, this teacher did not follow our policies. This teacher has not worked at KinderCare since this incident, and over the past two months, all of our teachers at the center have since been retrained on proper child guidance. We’ve worked closely with the families whose children were involved in this incident."
Anthony Brousseau & Beth McDonough
Updated: June 20, 2018 10:31 PM
Created: June 20, 2018 03:57 PM
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