Sioux Falls, SD (KSFY) Sioux Falls Police have arrested two former daycare employees on 25 counts of abuse or cruelty to a minor.
Police began the investigation back in February after a parent called with allegations that their toddler was being abused by his teacher at Little Blessings Daycare. The daycare fired those workers right away, but police say they conducted a thorough investigation including hours of video before filing charges.
Authorities say surveillance video shows the two daycare workers, Teresa Gallagher and Kenedi Wendt, routinely harming the kids during naptime.
Police say there were multiple instances where they would pick one of the three or four-years-olds a few feet off the ground and slam them back onto their mats. Video also shows the workers stepping on the children, knocking their heads around, yanking their arms and other abusive actions police say go far beyond the scope of the children's behavior. In most instances of the alleged abuse, police say they children don't seem to be misbehaving in a way that would provoke any disciplinary action.
The two women now face 25 counts of abuse or cruelty to a minor. They are being held on a $25,000 cash bond and are expected to make their first court appearance Tuesday.
People who run day cares in Sioux Falls are reacting to the news.
“There are background checks that we do through, and stop gaps that we go through, so that you are trying to get the best people who love children, and want to care for children, so to find out that something like that happened it just rocks us all to the core,” Lori Braley, Apple Tree Children’s Center Program Director, said.
The two suspects never worked for Apple Tree Children's Center.
Braley says this is a devastating situation.
She says Apple Tree has video cameras that are monitored and she doesn't know how something like this could happen.
She hopes the community can learn from it and be even more vigilant about making sure kids are safe at daycare.
Both Gallagher and Wendt will appear in court Tuesday.