WASHINGTON, D.C., July 10, 2013 ( – Just yesterday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to promote President Barack Obama's $75 million plan to enroll all middle class children in preschool beginning at age four. Although it has little been in the news, a powerful coalition of government officials, unions, nonprofits, and even retired military leaders is vigorously working behind the scenes to build support for universal government daycare.

Numerous studies show the negative impact prolonged time in daycare has on young children. The experts at the Heritage Foundation summarize, “More hours in day care during a child’s early years is associated with less social competence and cooperation, more problem behaviors, negative mood, aggression, and conflict.” Further, “Negative effects of day care on social–emotional development persist throughout early childhood and adolescence.”

There are less universal but more traumatic effects for some children who attend preschool.

A horrifying story unfolded in Columbus, Ohio, last month, where a daycare provider put her children to sleep by spiking their morning pancakes with an allergy medication.


The story reminded me of a a story I heard in 2000 of Diane Davis, the director of A Place to Grow daycare in Hudson, Massachusetts, who duct taped an eight-month-old baby girl to the wall, because the sight of the girl struggling to get free amused her and because it proved that the sticky substance “worked on everything.” Jordan Wardle's parents say she was still having nightmares and eating disorders four years later, when they settled the case for $200,000.

It would be one thing if this were an isolated, if horrifying, event, but it is one that recurs with disturbing regularity. A quick internet search revealed more than a dozen additional cases of children in daycare being confined with tape stretching over a 23-year period:

  • In October 1990, a worker in an after-school program at Flat Rock Elementary School in Dobson, North Carolina, placed Scotch tape over the mouths of some students when they would not be quiet. Betsy McNichols, who oversaw the program, fired the worker but explained the action away by saying, “It was not done out of maliciousness. It was done out of frustration.” She added, “It's the first time to my knowledge, and hopefully it will be the last.”
  • In November 1993, Irene Harpel and Paul Renner of Perkasie, Pennsylvania, were convicted of child abuse for serving children moldy bread, dragging them by the hair, beating them with a yardstick, and duct taping a boy to a door that March because he would not be still.
  • In 1995 Debra Siegel, a home daycare provider in Winona, Minnesota, lost her license after police discovered she had twice duct taped a child to the floor for refusing to be quiet during quiet time. That June, Judge Steven Youngquist decided losing her license was too harsh a punishment.
  • In 2007, two-year-old Joshua Minton died after his daycare worker, Vicki Chiles, put masking tape over his hands and mouth, causing him to suffocate. Chiles' life sentenced was later reduced, so she would be eligible for parole in 25 years. In 2010, the state of Oklahoma launched “Joshua's List,” a database of all daycare workers with a history of abuse.
  • In June 2008, a jury in Erie, Pennsylvania, acquitted Keith Holbrook after he admitted to duct taping two three-year-olds to the wall the previous November. His defense referred to it as “a fun activity.”
  • Officials accused George and Julia Block of duct taping a child's hands and feet and hanging him over a trash bin as punishment after a disruptive day in their Young Years Day Care Center in Jasper, Texas, in March 2008.
  • In 2009, two daycare workers in the province of Manitoba, Canada, duct taped three-year-old Braxton Herridge to a chair after he asked them to change his soiled pants. Tired of waiting, the toddler threw a chair at them and started to toss another. The two employees lost their jobs but avoided any criminal charges.
  • 20-year-old Alicia Lyons remained employed “several months” at Mustard Seeds Childcare in Ludlow, Kentucky, after she duct taped an 18-month-old boy to the ground during naptime in 2011.
  • This June, two daycare workers in Ottawa, Canada, were fired after they used masking tape to tape “three or four children of an unknown age” to their cots at naptime in February 2013. No criminal investigation has been initiated.

The list of 10 providers accused of this peculiar form of child abuse excludes innumerable other infractions, most significantly physical abuse and molestation. It also overlooks the Orwellian underpinnings of toddlers being reared by the State.


What effect would tripling the number of young students have on childcare abuse?

A massive influx of the nation's youngest children into the preschool system will require even more workers. Daycare is a service industry that gives access to our most cherished citizens to low-skilled, often poorly vetted workers – people like Vicki Chiles. The hiring frenzy would reduce the nation's 14.3 percent real unemployment rate. But the intense pace of hirings may tempt employers to conduct insufficient background checks.

As less qualified daycare workers face even younger children, the likelihood of more stress-related abuses such as these only increases.

Cross-posted at