Local daycare temporarily closed after cameras catch worker hurting kids

Rosio Vargas, 24.  (Jail photo)
Rosio Vargas, 24. (Jail photo)(KWTX)
Published: Jul. 31, 2019 at 11:33 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

A local daycare worker turned herself in Wednesday after police say she was caught on camera hurting three young children.

Rosio Vargas, 24, has been charged with three counts of child endangerment, a state jail felony.

Vargas was released Wednesday afternoon after posting bonds totaling $15,000.

Hewitt police say she'd been giving them the 'runaround' for a couple of weeks before finally turning herself in.

The Hewitt daycare she formerly worked at, Kidz Zone, 211 Chama Dr., is temporarily closed because of the situation.

"It's just not something that you would normally want to see, particularly in a daycare setting," said Hewitt Police Chief Jim Devlin.

According to police complaints, on July 3, a 6-year-old boy at Kidz Zone told his mother "he had been pushed down," and it was the second time.

The mother went to review video at the daycare, according to the complaint, and on July 5 went to the police, who confirmed her findings.

"While watching the video of the Kidz Zone daycare facility...I observed Vargas walk past child #1 and shove his face with her open hand causing him to fall backwards striking a bookshelf and falling to the ground," the detective states.

But that wasn't all detectives saw; while looking through footage of the first incident, investigators found two more children, a three-year-old girl and a one-year-old boy, had been victimized by Vargas the same day.

"On July 8th in the course of investigating a case of endangering a child, a video was obtained which depicted several children being placed in danger," the detective states.

The children were shoved, kicked, and dragged at nap time, the complaint says.

"In this instance child #2 was seen to have been sitting on her knees on her mat when Vargas came from behind her and shoved the back of her head forward with her open hand," the detective states.

In another instance, the detective states "...child #3 was seen to have been kicked twice and dragged by arm from standing and sitting position to a prone position."

While the video has not been released publicly, Chief Jim Devlin says it's upsetting.

"I've seen the video, it's unnerving, it's uncomfortable to watch," said Devlin. "It's very aggravating and as a parent it probably would upset most everybody."

Police say the brand new owner of the daycare, Lauren Cruz, provided the videos and has been very cooperative with the investigation.

In a statement to KWTX, Cruz explains the unfortunate situation.

"I recently took over ownership of Kidz Zone in Hewitt on July 5th--the license was approved on July 2nd. July 3rd is when the incident with Ms. Vargas happened . After hearing about the allegations, I immediately chose to voluntarily close Kidz Zone on Sunday, July 7th effective immediately to participate with law enforcement and CPS in this investigation.

Also, in light of me taking over, I was made aware of some city codes that needed to be brought up to city standards before re-opening under new name and new ownership. I made the choice to terminate the director, and Ms.Vargas had already been terminated . I let state representatives know I was voluntarily closing the center only temporarily to make major changes to the center and hire and train completely new management and staff upon re-opening.

Since the closing happened so suddenly, I personally contacted parents, offering to take their children in at my new center, Stepping Stones Academy, that was open on June 24th, 2019 before the incident with Kidz Zone had occurred. The parents were made aware of the investigation and were given the option to bring their children to Stepping Stones for care so they wouldn’t have to miss work.

Most parents have now decided to permanently keep their children with our facility. This center is not Kidz Zone, it has not replaced Kidz Zone, nor will it do so . This center shows it was opened on June 24th on all DFPS websites. In regards to the investigation I released the video footage to officials and helped them in their investigation every step of the way . Kidz Zone will remain closed during remodeling and training of new management and staff."

Cruz told KWTX, she hoped the new daycare, Kool Kidz Academy, would be open in about 90-days.

Hewitt police have gone back through several weeks of video and haven't uncovered anything as of yet, however, Devlin said it's still possible more children could have been victimized.

Devlin's advice to local parents needing childcare: do your research, and listen to your kids.

"Look at reviews, make sure you talk to staff, visit as often as you possibly can until you feel that level of comfort, until you feel like this is the place your child needs to be," he said.

"But you also need to listen to your children, and you need to listen to what they say, and if things are going on, don't just discount that as 'their imagination' or something out of sorts, investigate it, talk to them a little bit," he said.