At least two daycare workers have been fired after allegations that one of the employees gave out gummies laced with melatonin to children to get them to nap, according to reports.
The executive director of Full Potential Child Development Center located at Little Rock, Arkansas, confirmed the incident with Fox 16 and said the two employees were fired on the same day the allegations were made. The daycare also said they reported the incident to the child abuse hotline, to their child care licensing agency, and the parents of the children involved.
The daycare's executive director says two workers were fired the same day the allegations were made, and a report was also filed with the Child Abuse Hotline.
According to a statement issued by the daycare, the incident first surfaced when a daycare staff member reported she witnessed another worker give out melatonin gummies to the children before naptime on one occasion, reported the news station.
The daycare management investigated the report and the accused worker denied the allegations, insisting that she had only given out candy. Moreover, management did not find evidence of melatonin during a search.
During further investigation, another employee that worked in the classroom said it did happen on one occasion but denied involvement.
The daycare subsequently fired the staff member that gave out the gummies and the staff member who initially failed to report the incident.
Kerri Miller, one of the parents whose 2-year-old son was allegedly given a gummy, expressed disbelief by the incident.
“We thought it was a pretty good establishment,” Miller told the news station. “We’re a good family. We don’t abuse our kids. The last thing we want is for someone else to abuse our kids.”
Miller added that the staff members may have passed a background test but it is hard to really tell “what’s in their hearts.”
This is not the first time a daycare has come under scrutiny for handing out melatonin to their children. In Chicago, three daycare workers from Kiddie Junction Daycare Center were arrested and accused of handing out melatonin gummies to a group of 2-year-old children at nap time, reported CBS News.
The manager at the daycare told police that three of its teachers were handing out the gummies without parent consent. The workers were identified as 32-year-old Kristen Lauletta, 19-year-old Jessica Heyse, and 25-year-old Ashley Helfenbein. The trio each faced two counts of child endangerment and two counts of battery.
Kristen Lauletta, Jessica Heyse and Ashley Helfenbein each face two counts of child endangerment and two counts of battery.
“Allegedly, this was done in an effort to calm them down before nap time,” police said, reported the news station, citing a statement.
The daycare facility was previously cited for violations during the state’s Department of Human Services on-site visit. During the latest visit in June 2018, the facility had five violations cited.
According to Mayo Clinic, melatonin is a hormone in the body that helps a person go to sleep and are available as a supplement to help with sleep disorders, usually in pill form. Some side effects of taking melatonin include headache, dizziness, nausea, and drowsiness.
The website said short-lasting feelings of depression, mild tremor, mild anxiety, abdominal cramps, irritability, reduced alertness, confusion or disorientation, and abnormally low blood pressure are less common side effects of the tablet.