SC daycare workers accused of encouraging children to fight each other, police say

Two Newberry County daycare workers were arrested Thursday after allegedly allowing children to beat each other up, according to the Newberry County Sheriff’s Department.

Ericka Sherai’ Jones and Serena Caldwell, who were both employees at the Kids Unlimited of Prosperity daycare, turned themselves in Thursday at the Newberry County Detention Center after allegations emerged the pair allowed and even encouraged children to be violent each, according to reports.

Caldwell, 56, was charged with 15 counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor unlawful conduct toward a child. Jones, 27, was charged with 14 counts of the same offense.

Kids Unlimited in Prosperity is a daycare center located near CR Koon Highway in Prosperity, South Carolina. The center has a capacity for 146 children, according to the Department of Social Services.

TV station WIS reported that Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster said Jones and Caldwell reportedly told to the children slap, push, shove and hit other kids at the daycare as a “means of punishment or to entice them to follow rules.”

“It was a situation where they were participating in it by encouraging the kids, and they kind of looked at it as something maybe almost equivalent to a sporting event where they were kind of trying to motivate the kids into participating in that,” Foster told the television station.

Caldwell is accused of striking one of the young children with a box of baby wipes, according to the incident report. The report also indicated that Jones may have filmed the incident, according to WIS.

Jones and Caldwell were “rogue employees,” Foster told WIS. The center said that Jones and Caldwell were fired after staff reviewed surveillance video of the incidents. The center then reported the workers to the sheriff’s office and the Department of Social Services.

The center currently has a “B” rating from the social services department. An Oct. 25 inspection arising from a complaint noted four “high severity” deficiencies. The center was not providing “positive and non-abusive discipline practice” or “adequate supervision throughout the facility. The center was also dinged for “ratios adequate in all classrooms and on the playground” and “proper diaper changing practices,” according to the inspection report.

While the deficiencies in staff ratios, diapering and center definitions were noted as having been resolved “On Site,” the resolution of the discipline and behavior management was listed as “pending.”

On Thursday afternoon, a magistrate judge in Newberry granted Jones a $56,000 surety bond and Caldwell a $60,000 bond.