Truth-Telling: Believing Children in Reporting Incidents of Abuse

On Friday, the Florida Department of Children & Families fined a daycare facility $5,500 for NOT reporting an alleged event of sexual abuse and child pornography. On March 18, 2009, a girl (age unknown) reported to a staff member of the Ann Philip Daycare that someone had taken a picture of her “butt” while she was in the bathroom. The staff member wasn’t sure whether to believe the girl as the child had a penchant for “telling stories,” and so didn’t report it.

By March 20, 2009, another staff member overheard several children talking about the incident and reported it to the facility director – but the director didn’t report the incident until March 23, 2009. Anytime a director receives any information regarding abuses within a daycare, the director MUST report it right then. Doesn’t matter where the abuse came from – when any form of child abuse is suspected, either from within the facility, from the home, or from any other external means, the facility MUST report it to the proper authorities.

So what caused the delay in reporting?

Possibly the fact that the alleged event involved the step-son of the director. Possibly that the daycare facility was out of code by allowing two different doors into the children’s bathroom area. In the event of multiple doors, all but one must remain locked at all times. Possibly that the daycare facility wasn’t monitoring the bathroom, a licensing violation. And yet the daycare remains open, though on a probationary license for the next six months. Through the first six weeks, unannounced weekly visits by DCF will take place; monthly visits after that. The facility will then go under a full review and either the probation will be lifted or the license revoked. Six months to decide whether to revoke a license? Nothing done about the alleged event on the part of the director or staff? And other parents – were they notified of the incident? We’re outraged.

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