A 25-year-old Manchester daycare worker has been arrested after physically abusing a 5-year-old and 1-year-old girl in her care, according to police.
According to police, Devan Vanover, of Willimantic, yelled in the 5-year-old's ear and grabbed her face at the ABC Daycare on Hartford Road, leaving a red mark in an incident that a colleague captured on video Aug. 14. Police said Vanover's mother owns the facility.
Police said Vanover has recently completed drug rehab and has a history of drug abuse, as well as a "lengthy history" with the Department of Children and Families.
Her coworker told police Vanover regularly smokes e-cigarettes in the daycare and has abused the 5-year-old in the past. She also took a photo of a red mark on the child's jawline that resembled a fingerprint, according to police.
The video shows Vanover yelling in the child's face, ordering her to stop crying. The 5-year-old told police she was awake during nap time and started crying because someone had taken a blanket from her.
Vanover is seen grabbing the child's face. Police said the girl demonstrated to officers how Vanover held her chin and cheek.
"She really hurt me when she holded my face," the 5-year-old said to police, adding that she couldn't breathe when Vanover grabbed her. "She was kinda choking me or something."
The girl told police Vanover brought her into the daycare's infant room after she started to cry and yelled "real, real loud" in her ear, making her ear "tickle." She said Vanover had promised to let her draw if she calmed down, but retracted the promise after the girl stopped crying.
Vanover initially denied having physical contact with the girl, but when police told her the incident was caught on camera, she admitted to "holding her" and said she put one hand to the girl's cheek and another on her shoulder, according to police.
"I got close to her and told her that she could have her blanket when she was done crying," Vanover told police, according to the arrest warrant. Vanover said she had to raise her voice because the child was crying loudly.
She told police she had had a rough day because a 4-year-old had been calling her names. According to the warrant, Vanover said she realizes she mishandled the situation and that she was trying to be helpful but "it went the wrong way."
The 5-year-old told her mother Vanover had injured her before. According to police, the girl's mom noticed a bruise on her arm a couple weeks prior. When asked, the child told her mother a daycare worker had hurt her wrist, but that it was a "secret" and she couldn't remember the details.
"My heart is broken," said Marc Needelman, an attorney representing the 5-year-old's mother. "This coworker reported the matter to the police and my client and I were very thankful that she did the right thing."
Vanover is also accused of forcing a pacifier into the mouth of a 1-year-old girl who was crying and fussy that same day. Her coworker told police the incidents happened 20 minutes apart, according to the warrant.
Vanover's coworker told police Vanover tried to feed the baby yogurt in her high chair but the child refused to eat. Vanover then picked her up, cradled her and began to "aggressively rock" the baby, then jammed a pacifier into her mouth, the warrant says.
A few minutes later, she placed the baby on her stomach in a crib, then noticed blood around the child's mouth, police said.
The baby's mother later took her to a pediatrician, who found a vertical cut on the child's gums caused by "blunt force trauma," as well as a scratch on her right forearm and small cut behind her left year, according to the warrant.
Vanover told police the baby had been flailing in her arms and could have been cut when she moved her head around. The child's mother said Vanover initially told her the baby had fallen with a pacifier in her mouth, but told police a spoon had hit the child's gums, police said.
Sharon Vanover, Devan's mother, who owns the daycare, previously owned a child care center in Tolland where Devan Vanover worked.
According to police, authorities investigated Children's World Daycare in November 2009 after receiving a Department of Children and Families report that Devan Vanover was working there while enrolled in a drug rehab program.
Devan Vanover was terminated at the time of the investigation, her mother told police.
Sharon Vanover was told she needed to submit fingerprints and a DCF background check on her daughter before rehiring her, but that was never done before Devan Vanover began working at the Manchester facility in early August, the arrest warrant says.
Devan Vanover has been charged with third-degree assault, two counts of risk of injury to a minor and two counts of disorderly conduct.
She's being held on $45,000 bond and is expected back in court Nov 19.
ABC Daycare declined to comment on the case.