Kristen Lauletta, 32, Jessica Heyse, 19, and Ashley Helfenbein, 25 of Kiddie Junction in Des Plaines were charged with two counts of battery and endangering the welfare of a child on Monday (Mar. 5). The arrest came to be after an empty bottle of melatonin was found on the premises by a manager. After an investigation, three teachers admitted to giving the children the supplement for nap time.
“Allegedly, this was done in an effort to calm them down before nap time,” Des Plaines Police said in a statement. The women told police they didn’t know they were doing anything wrong since the melatonin was an over the counter sleep-aid. While there are supplements made for children, the one used at Kiddie Junction were meant to be taken by teens and adults.
Authorities added only three to four gummies were left in the 120-count bottle. Des Plaines Police Chief William Kushner told the outlet the women had a “horrible case of bad judgement.” Luckily, none of the children were harmed by the gummies. One parent however, noted their child was groggy after picking them up from the daycare.
The daycare has been around for 35 years. Supporters have taken to social media to stand behind Kiddie Junction by sharing stories about their experience with them. “As a parent of a child who attended Kiddie Junction Educational Institute please know I have high standards working in the early childhood field therefore this family, the KJ family, has a history and read the reviews (before this incident) of 35 years excellence, Gold rated,” one parent said on their Facebook page.
“A horrific decision made by three teachers will sadly ruin this school’s reputation. We had all positive interactions with one of those teachers. We continue to follow this investigation to find out how long this has been happening. I understand your judgement of these three individuals but please think about your judgement with this school, our school.”
The women are expected to appear in court on April 4.