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Biting, scratching incidents spark probe into Llano day care center

Llano Little Jackets Learning Center

A parent contacted the state and Llano Police Department regarding a series of biting and scratching incidents, sparking a probe by both local and state investigators into the Little Jackets Learning Center, 1705 Wright St. in Llano. After doing so, an official with day care center posted a letter on the door of the facility critical of the parent’s actions. Courtesy photo

CONNIE SWINNEY • STAFF WRITER

LLANO — The state Department of Family and Protective Services has launched an investigation into Little Jackets Learning Center, where a child sustained several bite marks and scratches in one day to his face and arm, officials say.

Parent Randi Grounds said she picked up her son, 17-month-old Casey Gass, from the facility, 1705 Wright St., on Aug. 31 and found him covered in wounds.

“I saw his face, and all I could do was cry,” Grounds said. “He had a busted lip and several bite marks on his face that were noticeable.”

Grounds first unveiled the incident by posting photos of her son’s injuries on her Facebook page and criticizing the actions of the center.

“I took pictures right away,” she said. “Because Llano is such a small town, I felt like the kids and the parents needed to know what was happening in that day care.”

Before releasing her son, Grounds said she had spoken with the day care director to discuss at least two previous incidents in which Grounds found scratches and bites on her son’s body.

“I think it was just lack of supervision, and they didn’t care that it was happening,” she said. “They need to find another job, because I think watching children is not something they need to be doing if they’re going to allow that to happen.”

Attempts to contact the owner of the facility or discuss the allegations with the day care center director were unsuccessful.

That evening, Grounds took her son to the emergency room, where he was treated for bites and scratches on his face, chest, elbow and arm.

“They put antibiotics on his wounds. They gave him oral antibiotics that he has to take for the next 10 days,” Grounds said. “The cut under his eye —  they put something to close it shut because that one at the bottom of his eye was so deep.”

A family member contacted the state agency that regulates licensed centers, and officials launched an investigation Sept. 1.

“We are looking into concerns with supervision, and we’ll investigate whether any minimum standards were violated including the responsibilities of the caregivers,” said Julie Moody, media specialist with Department of Family and Protective Services. “At this time, there is a safety plan in place while the investigation continues and what that means exactly is the caregivers that were in charge the day the child was injured cannot care for children unsupervised.”

State investigators are expected to utilize a report by the Llano Police Department. The agency is providing an incident report but has no reason to handle the case as a criminal investigation.

“(An investigator) took statements from everybody involved and pictures of the injuries,” Police Chief Kevin Ratliff said. “We’re just assisting CPS. It’s a regulatory issue.”

State workers are expected to conduct additional interviews with parents and the staff to review protocols followed by the center.

“When an investigator with child care licensing goes into a day care, not only do we look at the allegation for why we’re there in the first place, but we go through a thorough inspection,” Moody said. “We take a look at everything from are there thorough background checks to how the caregivers are handling diapers, how caregivers are handling food. It’s an extremely long list.”

The investigation could take 30-45 days to complete.

“When child care licensing finds a deficiency, we work with the day care. We provide more training. We go visit more often,” she said. “It’s too early to say. Technical assistance may be provided for the day care, and that means more training.”

She added the facility might be responsible for the training cost.

Little Jackets Learning Center has been subject to at least two annual inspections.

“They’ve only really have a two-year history. During that two-year history time, there were two deficiencies found, and they were both medium-weighted deficiencies,” Moody said.

One of the deficiencies related to non-working playground equipment, Moody said.

“We want to find out if there were any violations of the minimum standards,” she added. “If there were, how they could be rectified, so children are safe in that day care.”

Detailed information about the history of inspections of child care centers that are licensed or registered with the state can be found at txchildcaresearch.org.

“Oftentimes, when children injure other children, the day care provides information to the parents in a timely manner, and parents can respond how they deem fit to respond to it,” Moody said. “There is minimum standards for when a child is injured. The day care is responsible for letting the parents know when it happened and what they did to (treat) the child.”

Moody said day care centers are not subject to specific protocols in handling children who are accused of injuring other children in their facilities.

“If there is a child who is biting, biting other children, I would say that’s a decision that the day care has to make,” she said.

Grounds believes lack of communication and supervision put her child in harm’s way.

“Why didn’t they call me and tell me that this was going on. Ten bites doesn’t happen at one time. It’s throughout the day. I just feel like my child was crying all day,” Grounds said. “For a 17-month-old, that’s got to be horrific for him. The pain he suffered all day long, and they never once called me to pick him up.”

A family member is caring for Grounds’ son while she and her husband work.

Grounds said she is considering legal action against the day care facility.

“I just feel like other actions should be taken and my family as well,” she said. “Nobody should have to go through that. They knew it was going on and nothing was getting done.”

connie@thepicayune.com

6 thoughts on “Biting, scratching incidents spark probe into Llano day care center

  1. “We was not over ratio…””this is sad cause…””I call my state rep…” Are you serious? You expect anyone to take you or your business seriously and allow you to teach our children yet you talk like this? Not to mention the fact that a child has been injured while under your care.

    1. I’m very close the Director of the day care, and half of this news letter is a lie, the bites had happened all at once, children bite….there was no busted lip, and the scratch on his eye was from home, I saw the picture the day care had taken of him, and the bits were there, but Nope the lip and eye…the day care did what the state standereds told them to do, legal action would just blow this incident out of proportion…more then it already has, there’s always 3 sides of the story. Your side, my side, and the FULL truth.

      1. 10 bites does not happen all at once. Even with children who obsessively bite. I have two young daughters who would rarely bite each other, but when they did it was excruciating screams. A child who suffers bites to this extent does not go unnoticed. If so, the supervisor is not in the room with the child. I could not imagine not notifying the parent as soon as it happens to assure proper care is taken of the child. How anyone can look at the pictures taken of this child, whether a scratch and busted lip less or more, and try to defend it as acceptable is beyond me. Children are helpless beings who cannot articulate how painful or traumatizing an incident is to them. The director may be up to code, but I think I’d be less worried about how the parent brought attention to it, and be more worried about reprimanding the supervisor of this poor child.

  2. The child who was injured is my nephew. I am appalled by this, and I personally think this was child neglect to say the least. I have a young son myself, and Im really furious that a facility that is intended to be a safe and happy environment for the children. I understand tht the employees themselves didn’t physically injure the child, but were completely responsible of a LACK OF COMPASION and a 100% FAILURE to get this child medical attention or even bother to tell the parents. That baby had no protection, no sympathy, and cried in pain all day . And either Nobody noticed or they didnt care. These bites are horrible! Some childcare.

  3. There don’t seem to be standards for how long a daycare waits to contact a parent. My grandson fell on his 1st day at daycare in MF. Hard enough that he had a huge knot and his eye was crossed. The daycare didn’t call, and the state did nothing about it. Maybe I should have posted it on FB because maybe if it had been public knowledge something would have been done. As for the daycare posting that sign, I guess they have a right to post it, and it does avoid them answering questions all day about the incident. Apparently they believe the parent posting on FB is a bigger problem than a child being bitten, scratched and harmed all day. Shame on them for not calling both parents.

  4. Good for the parent I hope they do file some legal charges against the day care. They should have stopped and contacted the parent at first onsight of the first injury to the child. Shame on them for not doing so.

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