INVESTIGATIVE UNIT: Who's responsible for a 7-month-old's broken skull? Parents or daycare?
GONZALES - The Louisiana Department of Education conducted an inspection at a daycare in Gonzales after allegations surfaced that a 7-month-old child picked up from the facility had a broken skull. The daycare blames one of the parents, but the parents are now pointing fingers at the daycare.
Melodie Bell said her ex-boyfriend, who is the child's father, picked up the child from the Little Doves Daycare last month. When the father got home, he realized the child had a knot on his head and immediately took the child to urgent care. After the child went back to Little Doves the next day, the bump got bigger. The daycare contacted Bell and told her to pick up the child and take him to an emergency room, which she did. Doctors discovered the child had a broken skull.
"Oh, he was dropped off like that," Bell recalled the daycare telling her. "We noticed it and (a daycare employee) immediately told me we don't know what happened. It didn't happen here. We have cameras."
Bell believed them and filed a restraining order against the baby's father, but when the case got to court no one from the daycare showed up, according to Bell's lawyer, Jamar Ennis. The daycare also did not produce the video it said it had, and it also failed to timely file an injury report with the state within the required 24 hours, he said.
A judge did not sign the restraining order, and the parents now believe the daycare is responsible for injuring the child, who is now 8 months old.
"There was no video," Ennis said. "My client was told there was a video of them picking the child up. When she asked for it and when I asked for it, I was told it did not exist, which contradicts what she told my client."
The WBRZ Investigative Unit spoke to someone at the daycare who confirmed there was no video. All questions were referred to the daycare's lawyer, John Henchy. Henchy's office was reached by phone, and a woman there said he had "no comment."
The WBRZ Investigative Unit did some digging and found Little Doves Daycare has been cited 13 times over the past five years. The alleged violations included not keeping up with daily attendance records and not keeping criminal background checks for employees.
"Regardless of whether they believe it happened at their facility, when the child walked through their doors, they set in motion by contacting the parent that a child was hurt," Ennis said. "They had that obligation. It's very concerning that they didn't understand the rules."
Ennis said the daycare was required to report the injury to the State Department of Education, which oversees daycares, within 24 hours of notifying a parent or guardian. The state was eventually notified — two weeks after the injury was noticed.
The Department of Education said it has conducted an inspection and is reviewing its reports. It also notified the state Department of Children and Family Services about the case, a spokesman said.
Bell said she wants to see action taken against the facility.
"I am very hurt," Bell said. "I'm very disappointed, and I want answers. I want to know what happened to my son."
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