The mother of a young girl investigators believe was attacked by a boy in her daycare class is speaking out about the experience in hopes of warning other parents.
The incident in question happened on December 18 at the YMCA Learning Center in Tyler.
"It's unbelievable," she said.
The woman asked not to be identified in order to shield her daughter from additional pain.
"The administrator there left me a message indicating that there was a problem during nap time. There was an incident but my daughter was okay and I needed to call back. She told me that the teacher had found a little boy on top of my daughter trying to get her pants off."
That day two investigations were opened. Child Protective Services, on how a five-year-old boy learns to do what he did, and Child Care Licensing on a four-year-old girl who became the victim of sexual assault.
"My daughter has since told me that she was being abused on another occasion during nap time and has given me details of where the teacher physically left the room," the mother said.
The mother said that's the issue: teachers who fail to keep their eyes on the children.
This case is still under review, but the YMCA was cited for the same problem back in June of 2013.
In a statement about the June incident, YMCA of Tyler CEO Stuart Gilpin said "'Y' protocols state that a teacher must verbally notify colleagues when leaving the room. In this instance, the teacher did not verbally notify her colleagues."
Gilpin denied that a teacher ever left the room in this most recent incident. State investigators are still figuring out how it happened.
"Child Protective Services along with Child Care Licensing continues to investigate the sexual abuse allegations at the daycare there in Tyler," Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Spokesperson Shari Pulliam said. "Our investigation is ongoing. We will have more information on this case once the investigation is closed."
The little girl's mother said she did her research many times over, and still turned out to be unprepared for the reality of her childcare experience.
"I met with the director," she said, adding that when everything was said and done, she felt like her little girl was at the bottom of everyone's priority list. "In the mean time my child is scared to go to sleep and, you know, waking up screaming. It's just heart-breaking."
The mother has started a petition trying to change the way situations like this are handled.
The YMCA's full statement provided to CBS 19 is below:
At the Tyler YMCA, the safety and well-being of children in our care is always our top priority.
Last month one of the staff present in our day care room supervising nap time identified inappropriate behavior and stopped it immediately . We then reported the questionable behavior between two similar aged children in our pre-school day care program . Because of the age of the children involved we are unable to elaborate. However, we can say that , per our protocols, we immediately reported the incident to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and are fully supporting its investigation and review of the situation.
For many years, the YMCA has served our community as an organization focused on youth development and healthy living. We are committed to helping kids grow up happy, healthy and strong.
- Three teachers were supervising the room during nap time. Each teacher was responsible for their group of children.
- One child needed to use the restroom, so a teacher accompanied the child.
- Consistent with state guidelines, Y protocols state that a teacher must verbally notify colleagues when leaving the room and ask them to look after his/her children until he/she returns.
- However, in this instance, the teacher did not verbally notify her colleagues.
- An CCL Representative was on-site that day for a routine visit, witnessed this and cited the teacher.
What has changed?
- The Y provides a very safe environment for children, and we are always looking for ways to make it even safer.
- Y staff in the room followed our protocols by stopping the alleged behavior immediately after it began and reporting it.
- We have very strong child safety protocols in place that meet state requirements. If our review of this matter reveals an opportunity to further strengthen our protocols, we will do so.