The News 2 I-Team has been tracking the police investigation of a local daycare after video surfaced on social media. Parents brought the video to the News 2 I-Team to find out what happened and what’s being done about it.
The video captured earlier this month appears to shows a childcare worker in North Charleston smacking a toddler who appears to be sleeping on a cot. The worker also has her leg stretched out over another sleeping child. All the children in the video are covered with blankets.
Both the woman in the video and the one filming are no longer employed at the North Charleston United Methodist Church Learning Center. Two other employees have been suspended pending further review of the incident, according to the church.
North Charleston Police closed their case, and no one will face criminal charges. When the I-Team pressed for an explanation a spokesman wrote via email, “Investigation by the North Charleston Police Department is complete and the matter is under review by DSS.”
“Often times they aren’t prosecuted criminally if there wasn’t severe injury,” Dr. Carole Swiecicki, executive director of the Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center, explained. “If the caregiving behavior is just inappropriate, there are other things that might happen.”
One example is a citation in DSS records.
That’s why Dr. Swiecicki says parents should ask daycares if they are running both criminal background checks and checks through DSS on potential employees. She says since spanking isn’t illegal in South Carolina, parents should ask the daycare their policy on disciplining children. Daycare centers should also be able to share a standard operating procedure to report abuse. Finally, understanding the ratio of kids to adults is key.
Dr. Swiecicki says having more than one adult in a room helps keep everyone accountable for their behavior.
The senior pastor at the church, Richard Reams, says the church is working closely with DSS, and the church has launched their own internal review of the Learning Center the I-Team learned.
In the weeks since the video surfaced, changes have already been made.
Administrative staff members now walk the halls twice every hour. A hall monitor keeps an eye on classes during the duration of naps, which is when the SnapChat incident occured. The rooms have also been reconfigured so workers and children can be better viewed from the hall.
“Even if it goes a couple of days before an update comes out, it’s not because work isn’t being done. It’s just that these investigations are going deeper,” Pastor Reams told the I-Team.
He welcomes questions from the community in hopes of building trust again.
Reams believes the Learning Center will be greatly improved when the internal investigation is complete because the goal is to look at all areas of the center.
The Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center shared other important questions parents should ask before entrusting their child to a daycare in hopes of preventing a similar incident from happening to them.
- Does the program conduct background checks on all employees?
- How is staff screened?
- Does the agency/program have a policy in place that no child is to be left alone with an adult?
- Does the camp have ACA accreditation? (The American Camp Association evaluates the camp’s safety, health, program and camp operations.)
- What is the ratio of staff to children?
- What trainings do staff receive to keep children safe?
- Does this place have a child protection policy regarding how they report suspected abuse?
- Does the policy mandate reporting to all authorities?
- How does the camp handle emergencies?