GREENWOOD, Ind. - State records obtained by the Call 6 Investigators reveal the Indiana Department of Child Services is investigating a child care center worker/volunteer for suspected child abuse or neglect.
In two separate letters to Kid Co Child Care Center in Greenwood dated April 3 and June 20, 2013, Family and Social Services Administration Child Care Administrator Melanie Brizzi notified the center of the investigations.
"Department of Child Services (DCS) has reported that you/employee/volunteer is under investigation for child abuse/neglect. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, action may be taken against your child care facility at the conclusion," read both letters.
FSSA spokeswoman Marni Lemons would not elaborate on the allegations, but said they involve two separate instances with the same employee.
DCS spokeswoman Stephanie McFarland confirmed the agency received the report.
"The report source is considered confidential," wrote McFarland in an email to RTV6.
Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney attempted to reach Prashith Srivastava, president of Kid Co Preschool & Childcare, via phone and email Wednesday regarding the DCS child abuse investigations but has not heard back.
It’s unclear whether the worker under investigation for child abuse or neglect is still employed with the day care.
As reported Monday, FSSA is taking action to shut down the Greenwood day care after finding dozens of health and safety violations.
Kid Co Child Care Center remains open as the facility’s management appeals the state’s latest attempt to revoke its license.
After the story aired Monday, RTV6 received phone calls from numerous concerned parents who said they were unaware of the day care’s inspection history with FSSA.
Inspection records, letters and other documents obtained by the Call 6 Investigators reveal FSSA inspectors have found dozens of health and safety violations over the past year, including inappropriate handling of child abuse and neglect allegations, unsanitary conditions, inappropriate discipline, unsafe sleep practices and unreported injuries.
Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney spoke with Jennifer Childers, an employee of Kid Co’s infant room, who resigned June 5 citing health and safety concerns at the facility.
“The children’s safety is more of an issue now than it is ever,” said Childers, who submitted her concerns to FSSA. “Day care officials are not supposed to classify what’s child abuse and what’s not. If we suspect anything, we’re supposed to notify the proper authorities and let them investigate it.”
FSSA records from June 2012 commented on the handling of child abuse and neglect allegations, saying, "The center failed to report 2 separate incidents to CPS immediately.”
Childers has worked in child care for six years, and she also raised concerns to the state about unsanitary conditions at Kid Co.
“I saw insects, rodents, especially in the infant room, and no matter how many times I made complaints, they were never taken care of,” said Childers. “It was absolutely disgusting.”
A state inspection from June 28 cited Kid Co for ants and mice.
“Center should be cleaned thoroughly to minimize attraction of insects and pest to food sources,” read the violation listed on FSSA’s Carefinder website .
According to Carefinder, last month’s FSSA inspection also cited the day care for not giving a toddler’s injury report to a parent, dirty floors and vents, unsafe sleep practices, unlabeled infant bottles and missing documentation for some staff members.
State inspection records also repeatedly raise concerns about how the day care supervises and disciplines children.
FSSA records show a January 2013 video revealed a teacher dragging a child by both of his legs from the hallway into a room at least three times.
“During one of those times the teacher was observed kicking this same child either on the bottom of his foot or his buttocks,” read the record. “On this same video tape the school-age teacher was observed laughing at the boys that were engaged in the fighting and using inappropriate comments.”
Childers said she witnessed inappropriate discipline.
“I’ve seen teachers grab children by their arms and drag them,” said Childers. “I’ve seen children with marks on them.”
The state also found a teacher using profanity with a child and a child’s head cut while fighting with another student while a teacher was present.
In a January 2013 video, FSSA found unsupervised children.
“The teacher walked out of the room several times and the teacher allowed children to engage in fighting on several occasions,” read the FSSA document. “The school-age teacher was viewed on the tape multiple times looking at his phone and standing by the hallway. The school-age teacher did not take an active supervisory role with this group of children.”
According to records obtained to the Call 6 Investigators, FSSA first took action to revoke Kid Co’s license in June 2012 after concerns arose during an annual inspection visit.
In November 2012, both FSSA and the center reached a settlement agreement in which the center agreed to a slew of improvements including new training for staff.
As part of the agreement, Kid Co withdrew its appeal and was issued a probationary license.
Days before the probationary was set to expire, FSSA took action once again to revoke the license based on noncompliances from inspections in January and February 2013.
On Feb. 26, FSSA issued another letter to Kid Co notifying them the state was taking action to revoke their license.
Kid Co management is appealing the February 2013 action and is allowed to operate during the appeals process.
The Carefinder website lists Kid Co’s status as “Open- Enforcement Pending” which means it is under an enforcement action.
“Centers under an enforcement action are allowed to remain open during the appeal process,” Lemons said in an email to RTV6. “Families are not notified until the appeal process has concluded.”
FSSA officials declined to be interviewed on camera citing the ongoing matter with Kid Co.
Kid Co management also declined to meet with Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney for an on-camera interview.
“Since the matter is currently the subject of an administrative proceedings and hearing, we do not think it appropriate to discuss this matter,” wrote Prashith Srivastava, president of Kid Co Preschool & Childcare, in an email to RTV6. “We are quite confident, however, that after the FSSA hearing officer hears the evidence, this will be resolved in the favor of the facility."
Srivastava said his attorney has been pushing for a hearing, which could happen in the last week of August, although no date has been set yet.
Former employee Jennifer Childers said parents need to be vigilant, whether they’re looking for a new child care facility or checking up on the one their child attends.
“You have to continuously check in, make drop-bys, and anytime your stomach is telling you something is wrong, follow your stomach as a parent,” said Childers.
To read inspection reports on your child’s day care or check its license status, go to: the FSSA Carefinder website . (Mobile users: http://bit.ly/12R4Ayd)