A clinic in Arkansas for children with developmental delays has fired two employees following allegations that one worker gave melatonin — a hormone that regulates sleep cycles — to kids before nap time.
The incident reportedly took place at Full Potential Child Development Center (FPCDC) in Little Rock, where services include occupational and speech therapy, and was reported to the center’s executive director by a fellow employee, according to Arkansas outlet KLRT. A report was filed with the Child Abuse Hotline on the same day that the allegations were made.
Arkansas Department of Human Services did not immediately reply to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment. However, it confirmed to KLRT that the center self-reported the incident. Parents of children who were given melatonin were also notified by the clinic’s executive director.
One of those parents, Kerri Miller, told KLRT that he “thought [FPCDC] was a pretty good establishment,” and was disappointed to hear that something like this took place.
“We’re a good family. We don’t abuse our kids,” Miller said. “The last thing we want is for someone else to abuse our kids.”
According to the outlet, two of Miller’s children still attend the clinic while the family searches for other options. In the meantime, the center has alleviated some parental concerns by firing two employees involved in the alleged incident.
FPCDC has yet to respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment. The executive director of the center released the following statement to KLRT:
A staff member reported she witnessed another worker give out children's melatonin gummies to children in a classroom prior to nap on one occasion. Management immediately investigated and the staff member accused denied the allegation, stating she had only given out candy. A search of the room did not turn up evidence of melatonin. Another staff member that worked in that classroom, when interviewed, denied she was involved but stated it did happen on one occasion. The staff member who allegedly gave out the gummies and the staff member who initially failed to report the incident were both terminated on the same day the incident was reported. Management reported the incident to the child abuse hotline, to the company’s child care licensing agency, and all parents of children in that classroom were contacted and informed of the incident.
Yahoo Lifestyle wasn’t able to access DHS records from Arkansas, but KLRT additionally reports that FPCDC was cited for five violations during the department’s most recent on-site visit in June 2018.
Violations are said to include not keeping medicine out of reach of children and storing chemicals and toxins in food areas. Miller hopes that this latest incident will put extra pressure on parents to ensure that the center is keeping their kids safe.
“[Employees] may have passed a background check,” Miller said, “but you never truly know what’s in their hearts.”
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