More parents speak out against daycare following abuse allegations

Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 7:26 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - More parents are coming forward to share their frustrations about KidSPOT.

This comes just weeks after we aired a video showing a daycare worker pushing a four-year-old child several times.

“The same night I saw the video, I told my husband, ‘My children are not going back there. They’re not going back,’” said Haley Cotrell.

Cotrell has two boys, Lucas, 5, and Owen, 2, both of which attended KidSPOT in Trumann and Jonesboro.

Lucas started at the Trumann location in 2019 when he was three.

In Oct. 2020, Cortell said Lucas came home and told her husband a teacher took him to the bathroom, took his pants off, and intentionally humiliated him.

“[She] put him into a pink pull-up and then paraded him around his classroom and had the other children make fun of him because he was acting like a baby,” she said. “My son has ADHD, and to know that the people that are supposed to be loving and nurturing are humiliating him instead of correcting him, it makes me so sick as a parent.”

Cortell said Lucas’ teacher admitted to the incident.

“I thought at first it was just a teacher problem, because they were so fast about it, and they did fire her. I felt more comfortable as a mother knowing that they took immediate care of that problem,” she said. “But then, as time goes on, there are more incidents that happen, and you question, ‘Is that really what happened?’”

Cortell said another time, teachers claimed her son ran into a play kitchen set, leaving marks on his face. She said he had a dark bruise under his eye and a cut to his forehead for more than a week.

However, the final straw came in June 2021.

“My son came home from school, and he was absolutely terrified of his teacher, and I said, ‘Luke, what’s wrong, baby? What happened?’”

She wrote this statement, documenting everything that next day:

Cotrell says her son told her his teacher grabbed the top of his hair and yanked his head back...
Cotrell says her son told her his teacher grabbed the top of his hair and yanked his head back down to his cot at naptime and told him to shut up and go back to sleep.(KAIT-TV)

Cotrell said that’s when she requested an emergency meeting, but the administration denied the teacher would do such a thing.

“She is still employed there. There was no disciplinary action taken. She was never taken out of the classroom pending an investigation or anything,” Cotrell said. “She called my son a liar. And they took her for her word.”

In response, Cortell transferred her two boys to KidSPOT-Jonesboro the following week.

“I felt like there was nothing that I could really do since there weren’t cameras. But my gut told me as a mother, my son’s not lying,” she said.

Cotrell was optimistic because the Jonesboro location has cameras in the classroom and more staff. She also said Lucas was in better spirits.

But shortly after getting a new teacher, his behavior changed.

“He used to talk my two-year-old up before school, and he’d be like, ‘Bobo, we’re going to have a good day. We’re going to play with our friends’, and now, my five-year-old will look at me and say, ‘I don’t want to go to school.’ And that’s a big shift to happen,” Cotrell said. “I believe my kids 110% and I’ll always have their back.”

After seeing the video of a Jonesboro KidSPOT worker pushing a child several times, she was shocked especially since the daycare did not notify parents of the incident.

“I told my husband my children are not going back there. They’re not going back,” Cotrell said. “It happened on Feb. 11, which was well after a month, and no one said anything to us about it and both of my boys go there.”

She said after pulling her kids from the daycare that Thursday night, the daycare only called the following week to see if they were still attending.

Cotrell said the teacher shown pushing the child in the video had daily interactions with her son.

“She was literally holding my son every afternoon and bringing him out to me and knowing that she was in the same building as my son. And then the other teacher not being fired after they pushed that child down, it’s just too much,” she said.

Cotrell is joining Angela Artis, the mother of the 4-year-old girl pushed several times by the daycare worker, along with several other parents to bring light to everything that could be happening behind the doors of these daycares.

The group is calling on the Department of Human Services to step in for these children.

“I don’t think that there’s any accountability. I don’t believe that there is any formal training whenever they hire people on. I would be very curious to know if they do background checks and the fashion that they do those in if they do it before they hire them?” Cotrell said. “Are you doing those before you hire these people on? It’s making me question everything that they do.”

Region 8 News reached out to DHS to ask about the protocols with these daycares, but they declined an on-camera interview. However, DHS did provide these answers to our questions:

How often does the Department of Human Services do in-person check-ins on facilities and daycares? Is there a certain name for these check-ins? Are they available online for public review?

Licensing inspections are generally conducted quarterly. Additional checks are possible in response to complaints or if a facility is under enhanced monitoring as part of a corrective action plan. Information on both complaints and licensing checks are posted on the Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education website at this link: https://dhs.arkansas.gov/dccece/cclas/FacilitySearch.aspx

Do facilities choose which rooms are monitored or are they chosen at random?

Inspection teams have full access to the complete facility.

How can parents ensure these facilities have been checked?

The website above is a resource available for parents.

Since the maltreatment registry is only available to ‘Certain individuals identified under Arkansas Statute’, how can parents and the public identify offenders? Is there a registry available?

The Arkansas Child Maltreatment Central Registry is not a public-facing registry. Under Arkansas law, only certain individuals are able to request and receive information on an individual on the registry. These include the individual whose status is being requested, child protective entities in other states for the purpose of placing a child, employers, volunteer agencies, and licensing agencies.

What is the process for employers to request an Arkansas Child Maltreatment Central Registry status check? Is there a cost? How often do employers request such checks?

Employers fill out a form available on the Child Maltreatment Central Registry webpage, get it notarized and then upload it through the same website. There is a $10 fee and a small online processing fee for each request.

If there are consistent and multiple complaints on one facility, what measures does DHS take to ensure the facility is following all protocols?

DHS can place facilities under a plan of correction that includes enhanced monitoring visits or additional sanctions, up to and including revocation of a license.

KidSPOT, 1801 Grant Ave. in Jonesboro, reportedly falls under the Division of Provider Services & Quality Assurance. What is the mission or focus of this division?

The Division of Provider Services and Quality Assurance (DPSQA) is responsible for the certification, licensing, and surveying of long-term care and Medicaid providers. KidSPOT is licensed as an Early Intervention Day Treatment (EIDT) facility that provides services for children who receive Medicaid, so this licensing falls under DPSQA rather than the Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education.

How many closed reports of maltreatment, abuse and neglect have the Department of Human Resources or The Division of Provider Services & Quality Assurance investigated concerning KidSPOT Northeast Arkansas. This will include KidSPOT Jonesboro, KidSPOT Walnut Ridge, KidSPOT Trumann, KidSPOT Blytheville, KidSPOT Outpatient, and KidSPOT Marion.

Citations for each location are listed if you click on the name and then “Facility Visits” on the website.

What, if any, actions have been taken against KidSPOT Northeast Arkansas?

KidSpot is under a plan of correction with monthly enhanced monitoring visits for 3 months.

According to the DHS website, KidSPOT’s last citation was posted on Jan. 26, citing “at no time shall children be left unsupervised or unattended.”

The Jonesboro location where the child was pushed back in March has no founded complaints since Nov. 2021.

However, Region 8 News obtained documents the department sent in March, saying the facility was out of compliance for “inappropriate discipline” and lack of “immediately reporting the incident to a supervisor.”

KidSPOT-Trumann was last cited in Nov. 2021 for “child care licensing staff shall investigate all complaints involving the possible violation of licensing requirements.”

Cotrell says she is concerned about the DHS process.

“Do a better job. Honestly. There’s a lot of stuff being swept under the rug. I would say surprised inspections would help parents feel more comfortable, not just the classroom that the school picks them to go into but let’s pick all the classrooms,” she said. “I feel like DHS is just letting things slide and they shouldn’t. These are our children.”

Region 8 News spoke with the owner of KidSPOT several times about an on-camera interview, but she did not provide one.

As for the other pending allegations against KidSPOT, Angela Artis said there have been no updates in her case of getting help from DHS in her fight for justice.

Artis added she is still struggling to find who is truly responsible for holding KidSPOT-Jonesboro accountable from administration and staff for her daughter’s neglect.

The teacher seen in the video pushing Artis’ child, Daydreana Fowler, appeared in court Monday.

During her first appearance, she pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of second-degree assault, telling the judge, “It was a mistake and she wasn’t thinking at the time” of the incident.

Fowler will be back in court on May 17.

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