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Parents of former Rosewood Academy students make case for childcare bill at hearing

Parents whose children attended the now-closed Rosewood Academy told a committee that change is needed in the system
Posted at 6:38 PM, Jan 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-28 19:38:50-05

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — Ashlynn Turner said there's no good time to learn that your child may have been a victim of child abuse.

But there must be a better time than late on a Saturday night while scrolling Facebook, she said.

Parents who sent their children to the now-closed Rosewood Academy daycares asked members of the Nebraska Legislature's Health and Human Services to advance legislation that they say would take an initial crack at a big problem.

They said they unknowingly sent their children to a daycare provider that had several substantiated instances of child abuse. Three employees — an owner and two others — pleaded no contest to charges that arose from the claims last year.

Learn more: Rosewood Academy parent rattled by daycare investigation, closing; wonders if she could've done more

The bill would require Children and Family Services of the Department of Health and Human Services to immediately notify the Division of Public Health, also within DHHS, of situations of alleged child abuse or neglect by a child care staff member.

That could help ensure that cases that don't rise to the level of child abuse could still be looked into by the division that licenses child care facilities, testified Katie Bass, a data and policy research adviser at First Five Nebraska.

She said it could help identify patterns of troublesome reports from a daycare.

But Sen. Jen Day acknowledged the bill does not go far enough to fully address the parents' concerns. She also introduced a resolution that would study the system in depth.

"It didn't seem like parents were being kept in the loop on what was going on with their kids," Day told 3 News Now earlier this month. "Not just from Rosewood Academy's perspective, but also from the Department of Health and Human Services.”

Learn more: Nebraska daycare owner accused of hurting child gets year of probation; victim's mother speaks out

Day held a roundtable with parents of children who attended Rosewood Academy and industry advocates before she introduced the bill.

Learn more: 'Why are you sitting on it?' Former Rosewood employee says DHHS took too long to report child abuse

Bass said what the legislation calls for is already part of DHHS policy. But putting it in statute, she said, means it becomes a responsibility of DHHS, not simply of an employee that's supposed to follow policy.

"The safety of children and the well-being of families is our highest priority," a DHHS spokesperson told us in a statement earlier this month. "CFS welcomes a review of processes in addition to internal reviews with the goal of continuous quality improvement."

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