Cops: Daycare Staff Gave Toddlers 'Special' Gummy Bears

They allegedly used melatonin for calmer nap times
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2018 3:36 AM CST
Police say there were just four gummy bears left in a bottle that held 120.   (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

(Newser) – Three daycare workers who allegedly gave toddlers melatonin-laced gummy bears to ensure smoother nap times are facing serious criminal charges. A police spokesman in Des Plaines, Ill., tells People that managers at the Kiddie Junction Daycare Center called authorities after discovering workers had been giving the gummy bears to 2-year-olds to "calm the kids down for nap time." Commander Chris Mierzwa says the teacher told police two of her colleagues had been doing the same thing, and it had been going on for more than a year. Kristen Lauletta, 32; Jessica Heyse, 19; and Ashley Helfenbein, 25, have been charged with two counts of child endangerment and two counts of battery each.

Mierzwa says the teachers—who did not inform parents or check whether any of the toddlers were allergic to melatonin—told police they didn't think they were doing anything wrong by giving the children the over-the-counter sleep aid. But "the bottle specifically said it shouldn't be given to children under 15," he says. "The problem is you shouldn't be giving anything to a child that hasn't been authorized by the parents, even if it is an over-the-counter supplement." CBS Chicago reports that Des Plaines Police Chief William Kushner says no child was injured that they know of, although some parents noticed that their children were coming home groggy. "This is just a horrible case of bad judgement," he says. (This North Carolina woman complained after a daycare worker breastfed her son.)

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