WISCONSIN RAPIDS, WI (WSAU-WAOW) – A worker at the YMCA in Wisconsin Rapids was let go after allegedly hitting kids and force-feeding them.
Matt Lott, President & CEO of the South Wood County YMCA, released the following statement after the news broke on Friday:
“Everyone at the South Wood County YMCA is deeply saddened by the findings of the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families’ investigation that a former child care employee broke YMCA child safety policies and violated state child care safety standards. That any child may have been harmed or subjected to abusive conditions while under our care is devastating and our deepest apologies go out to those children and their families.”
The state says children were abused verbally and physically while in the YMCA’s daycare.
While that investigation is still ongoing, child specialists are encouraging parents to dig deep into a daycare provider before sending their kids.
“We empower you to do your homework, right. Check into the child care provider. What kind of credentials do they have to do the job? Do they know your child? What kind of experience do they have? Have they had a criminal background check?” said Childcaring Executive Director Kelly Borchardt.
Officials say it’s important to visit the potential daycare and use all five senses to see if its the right place.
“It’s about walking into a place and what do you hear, what do you smell?” said Borchardt. “What is your gut feeling in the environment? Is there a happy hum to the place? Does it sound like children are engaged and happy?”
Another great option is reaching out to family who have been in your shoes before, to see if they have recommendations.
“You can also ask for references. Who are other families that come to this child care program, that’s another important piece, if you’re not familiar with the area and just asking friends and family are you aware of this program?” said Borchardt.
With a thousand dollar fine, the YMCA expressed how important children’s well-being and safety is to them, and say they are developing a corrective action plan to prevent this from ever happening again.