DES MOINES, Iowa -- "My heart sank. You feel like a bad mom, like you can`t protect your kid," said Ellen Kirkpatrick of Colo, describing her reaction to watching a video filmed last October, showing the neighbor she trusted to babysit her kids allegedly abusing her son, who was 14 months old at the time."
"The reason why we put up the camera in his room is because we had suspicion that she was leaving him in the crib all day." But Kirkpatrick says what the camera captured was worse than that. "Not even a month after we put up the camera, my husband brought up the video and was like, 'hey, you need to watch this.'"
Kirkpatrick says the behavior caught on camera is simply unacceptable for any caretaker. "You don`t grab an infant by the arm and flip him around or pull him down or push his head into the bed or grab him by both sides of the head and drop him into the crib. That`s not okay."
After watching the video, Kirkpatrick confronted her sitter: "And not once did I get an apology. Not once, all I heard was excuses is all she gave me was oh I don`t remember that, or her reason for grabbing him by the leg was the bed was too low, so that`s all she could reach and she`s my height. I`m short and I could reach them, so that wasn`t legit for me," said Kirkpatrick.
Ellen and her husband reached out to DHS to report the behavior, but did not get the help they were looking for. "I got a letter in the mail saying there`s no assessment, no case because insufficient evidence, and that breaks your heart because who else do you go to?"
Kirkpatrick says DHS never even looked at the video, nor did they send any investigators. "I understand that they have a lot of cases and I understand that they have a lot of things, but to let somebody like this go through and to let them get away with this, it`s not okay."
As a matter of policy, DHS does not comment on specific cases. However, Public Information Officer Amy McCoy did provided the following statement:
"Anytime a case comes to our attention and we believe it needs to be reviewed we will do that. DHS has the authority to conduct an assessment when the victim is a child, the alleged abuser is their caretaker, and it falls into one of the categories of abuse under the law described here: http://dhs.iowa.gov/child-abuse/what-is-child-abuse
While being rough with a child offends the sensibilities of many of us, DHS's authority to investigate physical abuse is generally limited to when an injury has been sustained. Making the determinations at intake based on both the limits of the law and the information provided by the reporter is very challenging. Our staff are dedicated to keeping kids safe, and they work hard to accept and assign cases appropriately. Again, if a case comes to our attention and we believe it requires review, we will work with the reporter to gather additional information."
Ellen says after WHO-TV Channel 13 News aired the video in question Monday night that shows the alleged abuse, DHS contacted her on Tuesday, and that on Wednesday morning opened up an investigation, and will be meeting with the family next week.