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A day care provider was cited on suspicion of child abuse and neglect after an 11-month girl was bitten 21 times on the head, arms, legs, chest and back by a 4-year-old while at her unlicensed daycare.

Cassi Hillgren, 24, told police she laid the child down for a nap and the baby was bitten when she went to clean up another child who had wet the bed and all his clothes.

Hillgren said she heard the 11-month-old crying but wasn't alarmed because she normally cries herself to sleep.

She returned to find the 4-year-old, who Hillgren said has behavioral issues, running out of the room. The child told Hillgren she bit the baby because she wouldn't stop crying, Hillgren said.

Another worker at Cassi's Kids Daycare, 922 W. Burt St., had just left for lunch before the incident, Hillgren told police.

Hillgren is set for court on Dec. 8, but she said her attorney has worked out pre-trial diversion for the citation.

Hillgren had eight children -- including four babies -- in her care around noon on Nov. 7, according to police reports.

State law requires care providers to be licensed if they are paid to watch four or more non-related children.

Jeanne Atkinson, a spokeswoman for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, said Hillgren applied for a license last November, but withdrew her request.

Hillgren said she withdrew her request because she was in the process of moving her day care from the basement to first floor to meet fire codes.

She said all the parents knew she was unlicensed and it states so on her website.

Amanda Sell, the 11-month old's mother, said she did not. She said her daughter needed three stitches in her mouth and is covered with red wounds.

Sell said she believes the baby would have screamed and wondered why Hillgren didn't stop what was happening sooner.

She is concerned Hillgren still is watching other kids.

"It (the daycare) shouldn't be allowed to go on, because she doesn't have a license," Sell said.

Atkinson said the licensing division of HHS can't take action because Hillgren doesn't have a license, but other divisions like child welfare or the police may investigate.

Sell said her daughter is fine now, but she still can see the scars and the girl is jittery while in a crib.

Hillgren said she has watched both children involved since they were young and they've never had problems like this.

"I love what I do," Hillgren said. "It was a completely bad situation that went wrong."

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Reach Jordan Pascale at 402-473-7120, jpascale@journalstar.com or follow him @LJSPascale.

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