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Indiana Daycare Director Admits Giving Children Melatonin Gummies

Tonya Rachelle Voris pleaded guilty to 17 charges related to giving children the sleep aid without their parents’ consent

<p>Hancock County Sheriff

Hancock County Sheriff's Office via AP; Google Maps

Tonya Rachelle Voris in mugshot (L); Kidz Life Childcare Ministry at New Life Church in Cumberland, Indiana (R)
  • Tonya Rachelle Voris pleaded guilty to 11 felony charges of neglect of a dependent and another 6 misdemeanor charges for reckless supervision by a child care provider

  • Parents of some of the children “reported out-of-character behavior in their children, including increased sleepiness, headaches, bedwetting, and other symptoms,” according to prosecutors.

  • Voris was sentenced Feb. 2 and will serve 180 days in jail for the 17 convictions.

A former daycare director will serve 180 days behind bars after admitting she directed her workers to give 17 children melatonin gummies without their parents' knowledge in an attempt to get the children to sleep.

Tonya Rachelle Voris, 54, pleaded guilty last month to 17 charges related to the misuse of the sleep-aid at her daycare, including 11 felony charges of neglect of a dependent and another six misdemeanor charges for reckless supervision by a child care provider, per her online court docket.

<p>Hancock County Sheriff's Office via AP</p> Tonya Rachelle Voris in mugshot

Hancock County Sheriff's Office via AP

Tonya Rachelle Voris in mugshot

Around the time that the children began taking the gummies, parents noticed “out-of-character behavior in their children,” Hancock County Prosecutor Brent E. Eaton said in a statement on Facebook, noting that the children seemed more tired than usual, complained of headaches and even began wetting the bed. These behaviors, said prosecutors, indicated use of the over-the-counter sleep-aid.

“While studies show that melatonin is not necessarily harmful to children, health care professionals tend to believe much more research is needed before a conclusion is reached,” Prosecuting Attorney Eaton said in the statement. “It goes without saying that any medication or supplement should [n]ever be given to a child without his or her parents’ express consent and full knowledge.”

<p>Google Maps</p> Kidz Life Childcare Ministry at New Life Church in Cumberland, Indiana

Google Maps

Kidz Life Childcare Ministry at New Life Church in Cumberland, Indiana

Police first began investigating Voris — then the director of Kidz Life Childcare Ministry at New Life Church in Cumberland, Ind. — in Jan. 2023, following a report of possible child neglect, prosecutors said.

During the investigation, law enforcement interviewed daycare employees who said Voris was instructing them “to dispense melatonin gummies to several children without the knowledge or consent of their parents,” per prosecutors.

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The idea to use the gummies at the daycare originated when a parent asked the director to give her child pediatric-strength melatonin gummies at nap time, per prosecutors.

But other parents were in the dark about the use of the sleep-aid on their own children.

<p>Getty Images</p> Melatonin gummies are an over-the-counter sleep-aid.

Getty Images

Melatonin gummies are an over-the-counter sleep-aid.

Over time, 17 children received the melatonin at the daycare, per prosecutors, who noted that “when confronted about the allegations, Voris and her husband became defensive,” and she was ultimately fired from her position at the church-run daycare.

As a result of pleading guilty to the 17 charges, Voris – who had since moved from Indiana to Dade City, Fla. – was sentenced in Hancock Superior Court 2 Friday to 730 days in jail, with 180 days to be served in the Hancock County Jail. She will spend the other 550 days on a formal probation, according to her online court docket.

Voris was given two days jail credit toward her sentence, per the docket, which also noted that she was not to have any contact with her victims and she was to pay $189 for court costs and filing fees associated with the case before the end of her probation.

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Read the original article on People.