Families suing Florida daycare after state drops child abuse charges against caregiver

Two families are suing a daycare after the state attorney’s office dropped child abuse charges against a caregiver working there.

The alleged child abuse happened back in February, and one caregiver who worked there was arrested after the incident. However, after investigating, the state attorney said they didn’t have enough evidence to proceed. 

 "This is a parent’s worst nightmare," said Kelly Kalm, one of the mothers suing the care facility. 

"I mean, it’s sickening to me. You know, it’s sickening," said Brittany Henderson, the other family suing. 

The two moms are upset that child abuse charges were dropped against their children's former teacher.

 "Both parents are really upset. They are looking for help. They don’t understand why a daycare would do this," said Kene Anusionwu, the family’s attorney. 

Both moms hired Anusionwu and filed two separate civil lawsuits this week after they said both of their kids were hurt by caregivers.

A DCF report says Kelly Kalm’s son had his head pushed down on a table, his hands slapped, and his arms and wrist yanked. 

According to the DCF report, surveillance shows this happening.


Kelly’s son is 4 years old and has a speech delay.

"I feel guilty because I dropped my son off thinking they’re safe, and he’s not," said Kalm. 

On the same day, a Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) report says that Brittany Henderson’s daughter was left in a storage room for 20 minutes without supervision.

The report also says the caregiver admitted in a signed affidavit that she kicked and slapped the child in the back of the head.

"She cries and cries and says she doesn’t want to be at daycare. She wants to go home and be with mommy," said Henderson about how her daughter is still dealing with issues months later. 

FOX 35 wanted to know why the state attorney’s office dropped the charges. The answer is that Florida is one of 19 states where corporal punishment is legal.

The statute says, "Corporal discipline of a child by a parent or legal custodian for disciplinary purposes does not in itself constitute abuse when it does not result in harm to the child."

The state attorney’s office told FOX 35 News in a statement: "Because the involved actions did not cause physical injury and was administered in response to the child failing to obey the instruction of the defendant, it falls within the permitted actions of a parent and thus a person acting in loco parentis."

"Loco parentis means in place of the parent, so whatever the parent could do, the people who are caring for the children could do," said Geoff Golub, a Florida Board Certified Criminal Trial Expert. 

Golub is not involved with this case but says parents should still know how their children are being disciplined.

"Prior to admission of a childcare facility, the facility shall notify the parents in writing of the disciplinary policies used by the facility," he added. 

FOX 35 spoke with the daycare and was told both caregivers involved in this incident were fired.

These moms say they would never discipline their children like this, and more needs to be done to keep kids safe at daycare.

"It’s been very, very difficult for her, very difficult for her," concluded Henderson. 

 "I hope to God no other child has to feel what my son felt," stated Kalm. 

The DCF website has a resource to help families find safe daycares. It lists any violations at the site. You can access that resource and look up your child's care facility by clicking here