KAPLAN, La. (KLFY) – Many people were angry and shocked to hear about the abuse allegations of some of Mommy’s Helping Hand Too daycare staff members.
Bernadette Broussard is the daycare owner at the Kaplan address, 503 N. Trahan Ave, and the director of another daycare in Abbeville. Her business in Abbeville has been serving the community for over 15 years. The one in Kaplan had recently opened up a year ago in August.
She told News 10 that her passion for children and, secondly, the elderly started her pathway of running a daycare.
“I would like the community to know the truth because there was a lot of people out there bashing my center, saying real ugly stuff about the daycare center, which is not the daycare center,” said Broussard. “We are trying to protect these babies, and that’s the reason why I’m speaking out because nobody wants to send their kids to daycare for them to be mistreated.”
She continued, “I don’t care who you is. Once you mistreat a child, and then on top of that, you have an on-camera. Cameras don’t lie, but I’m here to tell the community this is a good daycare center. This is not a daycare center where your kids get mistreated.”
Broussard said that on Feb. 3, her daughter, who is also the director of the daycare, called her and told her that three staff members had walked out, leaving them with nobody to take care of infants in the infant room.
She said two of the staff worked in the infant room, and one was in the preschool rooms, which that day the preschool room didn’t have any kids. Therefore when she received the news, she immediately came to the Kaplan daycare and saw the infants were left alone.
“I immediately call the Kaplan Police Department. Which they came out and upon them coming out. They immediately said that’s abandonment,” she said.
Aghiana Jones, a teacher at the daycare, recalls one of the staff members coming to her that day and telling her to watch the children. She said she was watching seven children, and the two staff members were watching five infants.
“So on Fridays, we deep clean. So there was no way I could have, you know, maintained my room and then the babies. They were up, and it was just chaos that day,” said Jones. “I thought they were playing on first, and then whenever I saw that they walked out, I’m like, Okay, now, you know, it got serious.”
Broussard said she didn’t know why the staff members left.
“All of this that’s going on is breaking my heart because we’re not getting any help. We’re not getting help out here,” she said. “It’s hard when you’re trying to tell them that you’re not running a daycare for them to come in and do what they want to do. I’m running a licensed facility which has to be run according to licensing. Most of the staff that I have hired have a problem with us telling them what needs to be done. You know, and we’re caring for other people’s kids. So you have to follow, you know, the state regulations.”
Furthermore, Broussard had an uneasy feeling and decided to look back at video surveillance around and in the building. There are a couple of cameras in each room.
“I put in cameras in all of my centers because I told them the cameras are to protect the babies, them, and the property,” she said.
Kaityln Corner, who has a 1-year-old daughter at the daycare, told News 10 that she remembered getting a call from the owner about what happened and came to the center to help.
Corner said she asked permission to see the video and discovered her daughter in some of them.
“It was January 20th. That’s the only day that I watched. So I’ve seen one part of the footage where one of their staff was doing circle time with the kids, and my child stepped out of the circle time, and she went up to my child and grabbed her by her arm, and she carried her by her arm back to the circle,” she said. “I was very hurt. Some of these staff that are here I’ve known them all my life, went to school with them, grew up with them. You know, you look at people like that, and you think you can trust them. I was very hurt because you know, as a parent is really hard to put your trust in people.”
The mother said there were other alleged incidents she showed of her daughter and the staff members mistreating her and grabbing her aggressively.
“My daughter was playing with a piece of paper on the ground, and they went. They yanked it from her, and they flicked her on her lip, and then the other staff went behind her and did the same thing,” said Corner.
She said there had even been times her daughter would come home with bruises.
“Accident reports weren’t written. I called her teacher, and I’m like, ‘hey, what happened with this? She’s like, Oh, she must have fallen on the playground. We didn’t see it.’”
She continued, “there was actually one situation where her lip was busted, and being that my child was flicked in her mouth. I think that that’s the same time when she got that busted lip.”
Nakia Sinegal, a mother of an 8-month-old daughter at the daycare, said she is concerned about the allegations and wants answers from the police.
“There are opinions, and then there are facts. The cameras have all the facts, so Kaplan Police Department, what you’re going to do with it? We need results. Whether it happened or not, it needs to be addressed,” she said.
Unlike Corner, who has solid footage of seeing her child being allegedly mistreated, Sinegal said she does not know what to believe.
“It all depends on the perspective. You’re looking at it from, and I mean, it could be spun both ways. So you definitely don’t want to look at it with a biased eye,” she said. “It’s an uncomfortable place to be in because here it is. I’m thinking I could trust, but it’s like, what do you go from here?”
Jones admits the job is overwhelming, but there are ways to handle stress, so the workers are at their best for the children.
“We try to work together and try to, you know, be as a team to where we can be the best for our babies, but I do think that the situation could have been better. They could have finished off; they could have done something to where they were saying, hey, look, we’re not going to come back the next day, or I feel like it’s overwhelming. You know, we just need to go our separate ways.”
As for Corner, she said in the future, it will be hard for her to trust daycares and offer tips for parents.
“The biggest thing that I’ve learned is never to let the staff know when you’re coming to daycare. When you’re picking your child up, pick them up at different times. Don’t come at the same time. If you want to pop in because I know that it’s legal to do this. Pop in; spend the day with the kids. See how the teachers interact with the kids. Just look for the signs,” she said.
Broussard said, “we have been trying to assure our parents and the community that the girls that were working here that did this is no longer here. We’re trying to bring in new staff, people that say they like kids; love kids.”
Police chief Joshua Hardy sent News 10 the following statement:
“Officers and Detectives are actively working on arrest warrants for three arrests for children being abused. Parents need to always thoroughly check where their children are being sent to, and it never hurts to check into rumors because sometimes they are true.”