OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — A Johnson County, Kansas mom saw the FOX4 report about the Learning Experience in Overland Park and now believes her son was abused.
On Friday FOX4 reported about the center, concerned parents and a former employee who say their children were also abused.
Since then, more families have come forward and the daycare is being investigated.
It started with one police report and now there are five. The Learning Experience is a franchise and their corporate office tells FOX4 they are aware of the allegations.
After seeing the report on FOX4, Erica Beeler now believes her child was abused.
“More than likely what you’re feeling is right,” Beeler said.
Beeler’s 1-year-old son Tristan started at the Learning Experience over the summer.
“I did my due diligence and researched the company. Read reviews. I really felt like I was picking a credible place. Now I know better,” Beeler said.
She said there were things she started noticing. One day he came home from daycare with a dirty diaper. Often she would pick him up and he would be extremely thirsty or hungry. Then one day she saw the bruises.
“I called and I was like can you tell me what these bruises are from. They were like we don’t know. We don’t think he got them from here,” Beeler said.
She pulled him out of the school because she had a bad feeling about the center, quit her job, and took one where she can work from home. When she saw the FOX4 report her heart dropped.
“He hated to get into his car seat. He knew where he was going, so now finally he’s a lot better. I think now he knows he’s not going,” Beeler said.
Since FOX4 aired the initial report three more families contacted Overland Park Police Department about the Learning Experience and filed reports of child abuse and neglect.
Overland Park Public Information Officer John Lacy said they are working with the Department of Children and families on the investigation.
“We don’t take something like this very lightly. We’re going to look into it, and if charges need to be filed we’ll send it off to the DA’s office,” Lacy said.
Lacy said if a parent is concerned their child was abused or neglected at the daycare the best thing you can do is call police first, and they can document the report and forward the investigation to DFS.
“Contact the police department first. At the same time you want to document any bruises, bite marks things like that. You want to document it so you can have it for your records as well,” Lacy said.
Logan Harder was the first to file a report when she says her son came home with a full diaper that went dry and bruises on his legs. Now Harder says parents are reaching out to her and sharing their stories. She and a group of other parents protested outside the center holding signs to let people passing know their concerns.
“I know it’s a process, but I pray that someone will be held accountable,” Harder said.
The Learning Experience is a franchise. FOX4’s Sherae Honeycutt went to the facility and spoke with their director who was relatively new. She directed FOX4 to their corporate office. Representatives did not respond on Friday to a request for comment. However, Wednesday they did respond with a statement.
“We are aware of a recent allegation made against an independently owned and franchise-operated location of The Learning Experience (TLE) in Overland Park. Out of respect for the privacy of our families, we do not comment on pending allegations involving a center but we are working closely with state authorities to address and resolve any concerns.”
“The Learning Experience is committed to providing a safe environment for our children, families, and staff and that will always remain our highest priority.”The Learning Experience Corporate Office
Beeler said she is glad police and the state are investigating, but now may be the time to see daycare reform in Kansas.
“They are working as hard as they can, but I don’t think it’s enough. If they can’t handle it is there some kind of accrediting body that should be accrediting these daycares and is there another way to make sure we have a checks and balance systems in place needed,” Beeler said.
While parents wait and let the process work, Beeler and Harder say they worry about the kids still inside the Learning Experience.
“I want to prevent this from happening to the kids that are still there because they are still open,” Beeler said.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment did confirm with FOX4 that they are investigating the daycare facility. However, they said they cannot comment on open investigations.
If you or your child has been impacted by the Learning Experience or another daycare in the metro recently you can reach out to Sherae Honeycutt at firstname.lastname@example.org.