CUMBERLAND — A church daycare supervisor has been fired and arrested after giving melatonin gummies to children without parental consent.
Tonya Voris, 52, was fired last month as the executive director of Kidz Life Childcare Ministry and faces 17 charges — 11 counts of neglect of a dependent and six counts of reckless supervision by a childcare provider.
According to a probable cause affidavit, Cumberland Police were alerted to what was happening after another daycare worker told the pastor of the church that Voris had given melatonin gummies to children several times and told other employees to do so as well.
The pastor fired Voris after she admitted to him that she did in fact give children melatonin gummies.
According to the PC, Voris gave 17 children ages 1-4 melatonin gummies on several occasions throughout December and January.
"Voris dispensed the Melatonin Gummies to forcefully induce sleep in several children for her personal gain in not having to deal with fussy or problematic children who would not sleep during ‘naptime”, which was characterized by several staff members as their “break-time,” the PC revealed.
Cumberland Police interviewed the parents of the 17 children that were given the gummies. Many of the parents said that they noticed changes in their children's behavior and sleeping patterns that they couldn't explain before.
"In this situation, what they learned was that a number of parents had not authorized this and some parents said their child complained of headaches, maybe some itchiness, other behaviors that seemed to be a bit unusual with these small children," Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton told WRTV.
Melatonin is not FDA approved. The Sleep Foundation saysstudies show that melatonin can improve sleep in certain cases, but it is not for everyone.
Police spoke to Voris in a phone call in which Voris stated that she had no comment to make at the time. When asked to come in for an interview at the police station on Feb. 2, Voris initially agreed but later declined due to being advised by an attorney not to make a statement.
"I gotta compliment the detective for his work. We were together from the beginning. No, we haven't see something like this, so it was something he hasn't see either," Eaton said.
Eaton says the prosecutor's office is still in the process of contacting the families of those effected.
Voris has an initial court hearing scheduled for Monday, Feb. 13. She is in the Hancock County Jail on a $15,000 bond.
WRTV Investigates reached out to Voris' attorney but have not heard back.
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