Complaints Raised Consistently at Mascoutah’s Laugh and Learn Preschool and Child Care Center
By Zachary Daum
In January the Laugh and Learn Preschool and Child Care Center underwent an investigation by the DCFS, after concerns by a parent at the center were brought forward. Although the DCFS concluded that the complaint was unfounded, according to the DCFS Sunshine Illinois Accountability Project website, this investigation is the fourth in a line of investigations dating back to April. Each complaint was related to the same administrative code, “Section 407.200,” dealing with program requirements. These investigations were conducted between April 13, 2022 to May 25, 2022, June 27, 2022 to July 27, 2022, October 19, 2022 to November 3, 2022 and November 28, 2022 to January 6, 2023.
One parent, Jessica Willmont who initiated the most recent complaint to DCFS came forward for an interview, expressing her original concerns and she believes that her concerns have still not been addressed. “Things were kind of great the first few months and then we started having incidents’s with our oldest son, who is four. Just weird things where he was constantly getting hurt. His normal teachers who were amazing ended up both on maternity leave and we ended up with a different teacher. Our son just didn’t seem to like being dropped off with her. We figured at first he’s just a difficult 2 year old, throwing fits. One morning I drop him off and he starts throwing the worst tantrum he’s ever thrown (when I was dropping him off.) I walk down the hallway to leave and I hear his teacher screaming, telling him to not open the door. He opened the door and stopped in his tracks when he saw me and the teacher grabbed him by the neck of his shirt and pulled him back into the classroom with such force that she literally pulled him up off of his feet. Obviously, he was extremely upset. Mama Bear kicked in, so I go running to him and I go to the office. I explained to the director that, ‘Hey, this is what just happened. You need to investigate this, you need to look at the cameras, you need to do something about this.’ Of course, there’s no way I could find any new daycare right then and there that day. So their dad and I asked if our son could be moved to a different room.”
After two weeks, she discovered that her child had been moved back to the room of the teacher she requested her child not be with and at that point she pulled her children out of the day care. “At that point, I had already called DCFS. They came in and did about a two month investigation. Due to cameras not working and angle of cameras, they could not prove anything. Unfortunately our whole incident was (labeled as) unfounded. Another mother reached out to me (and explained) her child ended up with marks on her body and areas that it would just kind of be impossible for those to be there without someone physically harming them. Come to find out, that child was in the exact same care of the teacher who hurt our child.”
One mother of a child at the center who asked to remain anonymous reported that some of the cameras had not worked for over 6 years and they had made no moves to repair them.
Laugh and Learn Preschool Lawyer Philip Speicher made a statement on behalf of the center, explaining what happened as a result of the most recent investigation. “There was a DCFS investigation started in response to her complaint and through DCFS the complaint was decided to be unfounded. DCFS concluded that the details in the complaint were unsubstantiated. There was insufficient evidence to support her allegations.”
The DCFS was unable to provide Freedom of Information Act requests by Herald Publications on the details of these investigations for 3 weeks leading up to the publication date of this story.
The same thing happened to my oldest son (2 years old) in explained bruises and we’re not talking from him playing rough either. I went as far as to interview there just so I could keep a better watch on my child while he was there. There was one incident when he was in the toddler room and I walked in to pick up and I seen a teach full on screaming in his face because he had stepped on her foot. There were amazing teaches in both baby rooms with my youngest and I absolutely adored the original teacher that my oldest had in the toddler room but the kept moving her to the kitchen. I had to pull my kids and quit my job for their well being and safety.
Kind of interesting that in all four investigations the cameras did not work. If I were the parents I would go above the local DCFS office. Sounds to me that the DCFS rep and owner are really close.
I use to work there and I am glad I am gone from that establishment. Mistreat of employees and students.
My son(3 at the time) absolutely hated that place. He went for a few months before we pulled him and i stayed home full time. He cried upon drop off and was always crying by the fence at pickup and usually said it was because he was hot. The director was never very friendly, her system was a mess. Came at me for paperwork i had given her already when they were being audited. Ive seen where a friend would contact them for incidents and they straight up ignored her messages.
My son still points when we drive by and says he hates that place.
The cameras are to protect both parties. Its is clearly the daycare responsibility to have those cameras working at all time. Plus a parent witnessed a teacher treating their child in a abusive matter. They have no proof that the teacher didnt do what they were accused of. The daycare has left the children and the staff completed unprotected
I used to work there and when I was pregnant with my oldest I was working in the 3 year old room and there was a boy that was extreme trouble he was kicking me and hitting me and I went to the director about it and she simply said that I just have to let him do what he wants and deal with it. I do not like that place at all. I was also being talked about by multiple employees there beind my back and was getting basically written up because I had to use the bathroom multiple times because I had morning sickness and still showed up to work. Never ever would I send my kids there.
Their cameras never worked or the director said the owner only had access to them. My kids hated going there and were glad when they aged out
My daughter worked there for about 6 months. As she started talking about things she saw or was asked to do, her father and I had her resign. The owners only care about profits. And the lady was and maybe still is the director was awful! That place needs shut down!
DCFS doesn’t care! They are overflowing with kids that need homes and not enough homes for the kids. The minimum that a parent has to do and still keep their child is ridiculous!
Extremely good reporting, it’s scary that a child gets bruised up while at school and very clear signs of abuse are going on but DCFS is refusing to step in further. I hope this story brings light to it.
I used to work there and I must say….many parents were wondering what is going on after some time because their child was different and they could hardly get them into the school. They may pass the state check-ins, but they are aware of when they are going to happen. They are very cheap in everything that they use and feed the kids. It’s been years since I’ve worked there,but i will say that I wouldn’t send my 0-5 year-old there. They don’t care. This obviously tells me that nothing has changed.
When my daughter was 6 she went there for one summer. They ate bologna and ramon noodles every day. I think people in prison had better quality food then they served these kids. She lasted one month and we pulled her.
How awful!! Why is this not taken seriously by the staff?? Just terrible!! Great reporting on this story! More has to be done, those cameras should work no excuses!
Those cameras are there for everyones protection . If a parent saw or hear a teacher abuse their child and your cameras aren’t working then you take the word of the parent. The daycare should face consequences!
My kids things always disappeared. I asked to see the camera footage, but the director told me Jim only has access.