Parent records “stranger” in daycare; demands answers

Sleeping Giant Day Care.

HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A disturbed parent is demanding answers about a stranger sitting in her child’s daycare.

Caryl Anderson of Hamden tells the News 8 Investigators there’s a man who’s been seen on several occasions in the Sleeping Giant Day Care interacting with kids. So, she took video with her cell phone and asked us to dig for answers.

A parent shot video of a "stranger" at her child's day care.
A parent shot video of a “stranger” at her child’s day care.

Anderson says every day she hesitates whether or not to leave her daughter there, but she says she and others don’t have a choice. She says, “A lot of them are single parents.” She says the day care, located inside Hamden’s Keefe Community Center is affordable because it’s state subsidized.

Anderson says when she asked the program director and instructors all she was told was, “He’s allowed to sit here. I’ve known him for over 20 years. He comes to my house to eat.”

Anderson wasn’t expecting to hear this. “Are you allowed to bring people who are not employed by the state to work in this state funded day care and just sit around our children without a background check,” she said.

We asked that question to the Office of Early Childhood in Hartford. “Anyone who volunteers in a program and is there 12 or more times throughout the year are required to have a background check,” Communications Director Diana Lejardi said.

Just to clarify, we asked Lejardi a second time. “So, you have to come at least 12 times before there’s a background check?” Lejardi says, “Before a background check is required.”

Department of Public Health
Public Health Code — 19a-79-1a(25) :

“Employment” means working at a child day care center or group day care home and includes volunteers and alternate staff, who work more than twelve (12) times per year;

News 8 Investigator Erin Logan asked, “If I’m an instructor, am I allowed to just bring a friend into my classroom to just sit there and observe?” Lejardi answered, “We would have to again look at the different cases and again, we do look at things on a case by case basis.”

Lejardi says their agency is investigating and can’t comment on this case, but assures parents they are now doing random annual checks on day cares to make sure kids are well taken care of. She says anyone who is not a staff member can never be left alone with a child unattended. We want to be clear, there is no evidence that the mystery man was ever left alone with children.

We requested any closed complaints that were filed or investigated at Sleeping Giant in the last two and a half years. There were eight complaints ranging from understaffing to staff administering medications while not qualified to do so.

Sleeping Giant Day Care.
Sleeping Giant Day Care.

Also, in June 2012, News 8 reported this story where a teacher there was caught by cell phone verbally harassing a three-year-old boy that brought him to tears. That teacher no long works there, following an internal investigation.

In this case, since July 16, we’ve made several calls to the day care only to be told each time that the director, Edie Reichard, was not there.

On Tuesday, July 29, News 8 received a call from lawyer Lou Federici. He said he would be answering questions on behalf of the day care. We asked if this mystery man, who we’re told is named Tony, is allowed to be in the classroom. He said, “Tony, used to be a custodian there a number of years ago.” We asked Federici if he and Reichard would take a look at the parent’s video, they said, ‘No,” and they have no comment.

On Wednesday morning, News 8 stopped by the day care to give Reichard another chance to look. She never turned around and kept walking.

After getting the answer that no state law was likely violated here, Anderson said, “It is wrong. It is disgusting. It is appalling.”

Anderson is now on a mission to get other parents to call state lawmakers and make sure they take another look at the law.

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