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JFS, police: Surveillance footage shows multiple employees harm children at Cincinnati day care

Small Kids Adventures Learning Center day care on Glenway Avenue
Posted at 8:03 PM, Mar 30, 2022

CINCINNATI — Detectives and state investigators are reviewing a month’s worth of surveillance video taken inside a Cincinnati child care facility at the center of a child abuse case.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services ordered Small Kids Adventures Learning Center II to cease operations by 6 p.m. Tuesday, suspending the facility's license 17 days after police arrested an employee accused of assaulting a 1-year-old.

Court documents say surveillance video captured Kristian Hemmitt grabbing a child by the hair and forcing her head to the ground March 3. Investigators said Hemmitt ripped the child's hair out when she lifted the toddler off the ground. She then tried to hide the abuse. However, the child's mother said she noticed something was wrong that night.

Now, a JFS document obtained by WCPO Wednesday accuses multiple workers of abusing multiple children at the facility.

The document said on Feb. 10, video from one classroom shows a worker "...hitting a child with a toy, causing the child to fall backward; smack a child; grab a child by the front neck/throw child down to carpet; slam a child's hand in the door; hit (a) child in head with dustpan; grab two children by the back of the neck/drop them to the floor; throw a kid in a toy bin; slam a child to the floor; push a child's head down; and make a child sit in a feeding table for more than 1.5 hours."

The document goes on to say video in the same classroom shows an employee grab a child by one arm and drop the child on the floor — another incident that can be investigated as abuse.

"This staff member was the owner of this location until the license was revoked August 2018," the document says. "This staff member has an ownership ban until August 2023.”

Detectives are reviewing surveillance video from Feb. 10 to March 10 at this time, per JFS. The document says "...based on one day of footage it appears that numerous children were harmed and multiple staff members were observed harming children."

Parents said they recall what it was like when JFS shut the child care center down in 2018.

“(workers) had called me while I was at work and stated they had to close their doors,” Chandra Knott said. “And, immediately, I was just crying.”

Knott said she pulled her children from the center after workers allowed a person to take them home that was not authorized to pick them up. She is one of two parents who have gone on camera to say they reported suspicions of child abuse at the hands of Hemmitt to the center long before her arrest.

“Also, the day care owner stated that she was kind of a loose screw,” Knott said. “So, she knew that she wasn't capable of being there by herself with the kids.”

JFS said the facility has a right to appeal the findings that led to the shutdown. WCPO is waiting to hear back from the facility’s attorney.

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