DAVISON, MI — Jason and Rebecca Vannest said watching their child grow is amazing and is happening fast.
“He loves laughing, and he loves having fun,” Jason Vannest said.
Two-year-old William brings them constant joy, even though he’s in his “terrible twos.”
They’ve looked forward to raising their first child.
“Even before I was pregnant, I actually put together an Excel list, and was going through different day cares, and calling, and visiting, just trying to find somewhere where we felt comfortable,” Rebecca Vannest said.
After a long search, they fell in love with Rainbow Child Care Center in Davison. For more than a year they thought they made the right choice.
“I would often call and say he was a little upset at drop-off, is he doing OK now? Do you need anything? Is he being good for you today? It felt like we had a trust,” Rebecca Vannest said.
In June, shortly after William’s second birthday, they said that trust was shattered.
“We had a contact from a worker at Rainbow who had a great concern about the care that he was being provided,” Jason Vannest said.
Rebecca Vannest, “She was just, kind of sick to her stomach about it so she had to tell us.”
That’s when someone on the inside shared a photo with the Vannests.
“She explained to us he was being physically bound for naps, and over time, this happened about a period of a couple of months,” Jason Vannest said.
They said the picture shows a clear case of abuse, William swaddled and bound against his will.
The Vannests said it happened at the hands of a veteran child care worker, who according to this family, still has her job.
“It was, it was really upsetting,” Rebecca Vannest said.
The Vannests immediately pulled William from the facility.
“Anger, feelings of guilt,” Jason Vannest said.
In a statement to WNEM, Rainbow Child Care said:
“Regarding any situation involving current and former employees, or current and former families, for the purpose of confidentiality, we don’t discuss it.”
The Vannests got police and the state involved.
Through the Freedom of Information Act, WNEM received several pages of documents related to the case, confirming that the Department of Health and Human Services interviewed workers and families as part of its investigation.
In the end, the agency cited the day care center for wrongdoing for “restricting William’s movement during nap time.”
However, because of confidentiality, the punishment, if any, is not known.
“It’s our worst nightmare that something is happening to them when they’re in the care of someone else,” Jason Vannest said.
WNEM also confirmed that Davison Township Police Department conducted its own investigation, but the county prosecutor did not move forward with a case.
Colin Parks, the manager of Child Protective Services, spoke to WNEM in Lansing.
Because of confidentiality, he also could not discuss specifics of the Vannest case, but said abuse is determined by fact and circumstance.
“What I would tell you is we would have to take a look at the entire thing in context, and we would have to evaluate completely what happened, and we would have to make a decision as to whether an action put a child at risk of harm,” Parks said.
The Vannests believe the picture doesn’t lie and it adds up to a clear case of abuse, something the Vannests have tried to avoid, even before William was born.
“It’s just scary as a parent, because I don’t know how another parent would find this out,” Rebecca Vannest said.
They also said they believe the action taken is insufficient.
“What you assume is that justice will be served, action will be taken, and there will be consequences for someone who has abused or done harm to your child, and in this case, it just hasn’t happened so far,” Jason Vannest said.
Right now the Vannests are keeping William out of daycare.
CPS said it’s a good idea you ask your child’s daycare how they handle behavioral issues and keep an honest dialogue.