Investigation finds toddler pulled out own hair at Federal Way daycare

Video surveillance shows no assault; girl’s mother still seeks legal action against police, daycare.

A police investigation of what happened to a 2-year-old girl whose hair was pulled out of her scalp while she was at a Federal Way daycare has determined the girl pulled out her own hair, according to police.

Federal Way police detectives reviewed hours of surveillance video footage from Childtime Daycare where the toddler was the day her mother noticed her daughter’s hair was missing on March 5.

“The surveillance video clearly depicts the child playing with and pulling on her own braids as one of them slowly detaches from her scalp,” said Federal Way police commander Kurt Schwan in an email to the Mirror.

Police determined the girl was not assaulted by any child or adult at the daycare facility, and the police department has closed the case, he said.

However, the girl’s mother, Chelsy Cooper, does not believe the police did a full investigation.

“They see on the tape that my daughter is entering the building with her hair attached to her head, but when she leaves, her hair is no longer attached to her head,” Cooper told the Mirror. “That is questionable to me.”

Cooper took to Facebook on March 6 with outrage over alleged abuse her daughter endured at the daycare the day prior. She said in the post that she dropped off her toddler at the daycare on March 5 and her daughter was allegedly injured some time that day. She posted a photo of the back of her daughter’s head that shows rows of braids affixed to her scalp. It appears at least three of the braids are being held up to indicate that they were pulled from her scalp, with a large bald patch underneath.

Her post caused a “social media frenzy,” Schwan said. Some commenters made threats of violence against daycare staff.

Cooper told the Mirror on Tuesday that the first two videotapes the detectives received from the daycare were “bits and pieces” of what occurred throughout the day.

“My daughter also came home saying that she hurt her finger and busted her lip and they don’t see that on the tape,” Cooper said, noting that the daycare facility later gave her an incident report that noted her daughter’s lip and finger were injured. “I do believe the tapes were messed with in some type of way and [the daycare] is trying to cover up what happened to my daughter.”

However, Schwan said their detectives reviewed the video for the entire time the child was at the daycare during the day in question, not just bits and pieces. He said the hours-long video did not appear to be altered in any way. In addition, he said the injury to the child’s lip was documented by the daycare as being sustained during a fall, which was seen on the surveillance video. He did not have information about any injuries to the girl’s finger.

Lydia Cisaruk, director of communication for Childtime, said in a statement “nothing is more important to us than our children’s wellbeing. When a concern is brought to our attention, we conduct a comprehensive review, and take any appropriate steps based on the findings.”

Cisaruk continued that Childtime believes their protocols were followed.

“We reviewed video footage from that school day to understand what occurred and shared the footage with the authorities to substantiate our conclusion,” she said. “The findings from the Federal Way Police are consistent with the conclusion of our own internal review.”

Cooper said she thinks the police “don’t want to deal with this because I let the world know that they did nothing. I didn’t see a detective until that Friday, but my daughter was hurt on Wednesday.”

Cooper previously told media that the daycare and law enforcement were not investigating what happened to her daughter.

However, Schwan said that is incorrect. The Federal Way Police Department opened an investigation and referred it to Federal Way’s Criminal Investigations Section as well as Child Protective Services, he said. In addition, Childtime Daycare is equipped with video surveillance for safety, although the video footage is maintained on an off-site server to which the employees do not have access, Schwan wrote.

Cooper has retained an attorney and is seeking legal action against the daycare and police department. She said someone hurt her daughter and she disagrees with the outcome of the police investigation.

“No, sorry. I don’t believe it,” she said. “Even if she was pulling at her own hair, something happened to her prior to that. When she came home, she was pulling on her own head. She was screaming and crying for help and they don’t even have her on video crying.”

She said her daughter has continued to show signs since March 5 that she has allegedly been traumatized.

“She’s going to have to start doing counseling,” she said. “My daughter sleeps in corners. She’s not a sweet, bubbly child like she used to be. She whines and cries and is scared of a lot of things … Something happened and I’m not going to put this to rest until I find out what happened.”

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