When a dad went to pick his daughter up at daycare, he said, “She was shaking and I knew she didn’t want to be there.” Then, he saw the bloody marks and immediately demanded answers. The ones he and his wife received, however, aren’t sitting well with them.
When Rylee Umsted picked up his 1-year-old daughter Mila from daycare, not only did he find his little girl shaking and obviously upset, but he also discovered the toddler was covered in bite marks. His baby had been bitten a whopping eight times, leaving painful marks all over her back.
Rylee and his wife, Rocio Enriquez Umsted, immediately wanted to know how their daughter ended up in such horrible condition while at Sunrise Preschools in Maricopa, Arizona, but the Phoenix-area parents didn’t like the explanation they received from their daughter’s daycare.
According to the parents, they were told an incident had occurred with another child about twenty minutes before Rylee arrived to pick Mila up. “She told me there were three children in the classroom including my daughter,” Rocio recalled. “A teacher was changing a diaper … when another child went on top of her and started biting her.”
This only left the mother with more questions. “One bite mark that you look at you’d be like, she’d be screaming bloody murder. So I want to know if someone heard a scream, where was management?” Rocio asked.
The mom claims the daycare said the incident happened quickly, only lasting about 30 seconds. “I can’t believe it until I see it,” Rocio said, and that’s exactly what she wants to do. Since the facility utilizes surveillance video, Mila’s parents asked to see the footage, but according to Rylee and Rocio, Sunrise Preschools won’t let them look at it.
“We don’t know what to think because we don’t know the true answer,” Rylee said. “But there’s a video out there that tells the truth,” he added. “Sunrise should’ve either had two teachers in that room or they need different training,” Rylee furthered, but it’s hard to know exactly what needs to change when they don’t know with any certainty what actually happened.
Rather than provide the footage, Sunrise Preschools gave the media a statement, saying they are deeply concerned about the incident. “The safety of our children is our number one priority,” the statement said. “Sunrise Preschools immediately provided care and assistance to the injured child. We are in contact with [the] parents of both children involved. We are cooperating with the proper authorities and are unable to provide additional details at this time.”
Dana Vela, the President of Sunrise Preschools, issued a second statement hours later, saying the employee involved was suspended without pay pending further investigation. She apologized for the “heartbreaking and unacceptable” incident, saying the facility was “working diligently to ensure it does not happen again” by “reviewing all policies and procedures” and taking “whatever steps are needed to prevent this rare but serious matter from repeating itself.”
Vela confirmed that the incident was captured on video. “A video of the incident confirms the child was injured by another child very quickly and while the caregiver was changing a diaper,” her statement said. “This is not meant to excuse the incident but to explain what happened,” she added while promising to do better after the “unfortunate matter” provided “some hard-learned lessons.”
Vela also revealed that the child who bit Mila was expelled. “While there is established protocol to address occasional biting behavior common to many toddlers, the severity of the incident demanded a more appropriate response,” she said. According to Maricopa police, the incident is being investigated by authorities.
Lashawna Goulburne, the mother of the accused two-year-old who bit Mila, told ABC 15 she wasn’t called when the incident happened or told that police were called about her son’s actions until the next day. She also claimed this was the first time her son had bitten someone at daycare, although he’d done it at home a handful of times. Even so, she said the daycare is to blame since biting is “an expected developmental behavior.”
“He’s not at fault here,” Goulburne said. “He’s two, and we pay, not only me but the other family, we pay for our children to be protected and be monitored and safe,” she added. “I know that girl was screaming out in agony after that first bite. Why was she not tended to? Why was this not stopped and why was my son not redirected?” she asked. “If [my son] or this little girl were choking, what would be the priority? The diaper or the choking?”
Parents should be able to leave their children in the hands of professionals without worrying about what harm may come to them. Sadly, incidents, like the one Rylee Umsted and his daughter Mila experienced, prove that’s not always the case — and unfortunately, such instances aren’t unheard of.
While an occasional bite among toddlers might be expected, it’s hard to fathom how a child is bitten so severely eight times before a caregiver steps in to stop it. Considering the high price most parents pay for daycare, we should definitely expect more from those we’ve entrusted with the care of our children.