Nebraska parents say ‘change is desperately needed’ to day cares’ child abuse protocol

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — Two proposals that would make sure you’re notified about potentially dangerous employees at your kids’ child care center was discussed Thursday in the Nebraska Legislature.

LBs 64 and 65 come just a little over two years after several cases of child abuse were investigated at Rosewood Academy, a day care in Omaha.

If they pass, you would be alerted when a worker is placed on the child abuse and neglect registry.

Right now, only a victim’s parent or guardian is required to receive notice.

Melissa Krajeski and other parents of children who were victims of abuse at Rosewood testified in support of the bills.

“Change is desperately needed,” Krajeski said. “My greatest fear is that in a few years, a new group of parents will be sitting in front of you with similar stories.”

State Sen. Jen Day introduced the bills, which put the Department of Health and Human Services in charge of notifying families.

You’d receive the alert by mail within 10 business days if your kid was attending the child care center at the time of an incident.

“At the end of the day, these are our children,” Day said. “It comes down to the obvious reality that if our own kids were at a child care facility, and documented, substantiated child abuse had happened, we would want to know about it. It is truly sad to reflect on parents dropping their children off at day care and not knowing that this happened when the state has this information that could be easily given to them.”

The parents in the Rosewood case sad a notification might have helped them recognize signs they brushed off.

“Perhaps if I would have gotten that information immediately, I could have avoided my son having an incident with the same man or my 2-year-old daughter falling a victim to an abusive teacher under the same management,” Beth Freudenburg said.

Another parent, Amanda Sway, echoed that sentiment.

“In my daughter’s case, there were six children that were impacted, and only one of the parents were notified,” she said. “A notification system is needed to ensure that everyone is held accountable.”

The notification would show you when that incident occurred, but it would not reveal the type of abuse or neglect.

Victims and workers also wouldn’t be identified.

No opponents of the bills testified in person.

Day recognized that the vast majority of child care centers are loving places where abuse would never be tolerated, but these bills are for the rare instances when it does happen.

More than 2,200 day care providers were found to be abusing and neglecting children in 2017 alone, according to the nonprofit Darkness to Light,

Over 20% of those offenders committed sexual abuse, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The parents say these bills could have made a difference in their cases, which is why they came to testify.

“I know this bill won’t solve all of the challenges we face in child care facilities today, but it’s a start,” Freudenburg said. “And I hope it could prevent the feeling of failure I had as a parent and give the power back to parents to make informed decisions for their families.”

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