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Unlicensed daycare provider pleads guilty to child abuse

Kaylen Grimm admitted to ignoring several cease-and-desist letters from DHS prior to the abuse incident in January 2022, according to Castle Rock Police.

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. — A home daycare provider who ignored several cease-and-desist orders from the state pleaded guilty Friday to a child abuse charge involving a young girl in her care and received a deferred sentence – meaning she likely won't serve any time behind bars.

Kaylen Grimm pleaded guilty to child abuse – negligently causing injury in Douglas County District Court. As part of her sentence, she'll serve two years of probation and must complete 36 hours of community service.

In addition, she must undergo drug and alcohol evaluations, is banned from providing any commercial child care, and must comply with all Department of Human Services (DHS) orders.

The judge presiding over the case on Friday said in court that Grimm's actions were "completely reprehensible," as well as "awful" and "appalling". 

The mother of the 3-year-old child who was abused by Grimm, Jennifer Prusak, said the punishment isn't enough and more needs to be done to protect kids in Colorado.

"If [Grimm] complies with everything for the next two years, the whole case will be dismissed and it won’t be on her record anymore and then after two years she could go back to providing care to children and no one would know what happened. That part doesn’t feel just," she said. "But, for right now, it was the best the DA said they could do. So I hope one day the system is better and protects our kids more, but right now it doesn’t."

Police began an investigation into Grimm on Jan. 5, 2022, after Prusak picked up her daughter and was concerned about visible injuries that included a bruise on her neck and scratches around her eyes, according to an arrest affidavit from the Castle Rock Police Department.

A responding officer reported the following injuries on Prusak's daughter in the affidavit:

  • A mild abrasion under the right eye and to the side by her right temple
  • A small bruise on left neck that appeared older
  • A small abrasion "consistent" with a fingernail nick on her left cheek

A detective suggested they go to Children's Hospital for evaluation of her injuries, according to the document. A nurse and a doctor there expressed "significant" concerns about the injuries because there were "numerous" and were "not consistent with an accident or fall," the affidavit says.

"As time went on that night, it became more and more clear that was a perfect handprint across her face, and then there were red dots all underneath her eyes, and there was a thumbprint on her neck," said Prusak.

According to the affidavit, Grimm was allowed to care for four children, and at the time of the incident on Jan. 5, at least six children were in the home.

"I’ve been in contact with six other families that all have pictures that are similar to what happened to my daughter," said Prusak. "It’s not just my child and [Grimm's] not being held accountable for that and that hurts."

Prusak said her daughter is still suffering from the trauma, more than a year later. 

"Within the first week after everything happened she started hitting and biting and kicking, just things that we had never seen [before]," she said. "We had been working on potty training at that time and everything we had worked on went completely out the window for a while and she completely regressed and the therapist said that was definitely a sign of the trauma."

She said her daughter has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome (or PTSD) and continues to see a counselor every other week. 

"After the event for at least 3-4 months in the middle of the night she would have these night terrors and she would just wake up screaming, and she would look at me and say, ‘Why did you leave me? Why did you leave me?’ and I knew what she was talking about," she said.

Prusak said her daughter also ended up staying in the hospital for three days, due to being severely constipated. She said she remembers Grimm being upset when Prusak's daughter had pooped her pants at daycare. 

"We kind of started putting it together that she was scared to go to the bathroom and there was a reason she was scared," she said. "What we didn’t realize was that the bathroom issues were a direct cause of the traumatic event."

Previous cease-and-desist orders

Shortly after the child was injured, Grimm asked a detective whether he was prohibiting her from operating as a daycare, the affidavit says.

He responded that he was not but reminded her that the state had given her "numerous" cease-and-desist orders and told her she needed to comply, the affidavit says. Grimm admitted she had not complied previously but that she would do so moving forward, the document says.

According to the affidavit, an investigator with the state licensing division had been looking into Grimm for "months" due to reports that she was caring for too many children. The investigator reported she had contacted Grimm and her husband  "numerous" times and had served them cease-and-desist letters on the following dates, the affidavit says:

  • July 22, 2021
  • Aug. 26, 2021
  • Aug. 27, 2021
  • Jan. 6, 2022

Prusak said she wants to warn other parents about unlicensed home daycares.

"[Grimm] had been operating illegally for a long time and I had no idea," said Prusak. 

A website run by the Colorado Department of Early Childhood, coloradoshines.com, lists every cease & desist letter from unlicensed home daycare providers. It's something Prusak didn't know about before leaving her child in the care of Grimm. 

"There's not as much oversight on [unlicensed providers]. So they go off of pretty much parent complaints," said Prusak. "You can go to that list and look up the name of the provider that you’re looking into, possibly sending your kids to, and see if they’re on that list. If they’re not on that list they haven’t, at least, been caught having too many kids, so at least you know that."

Prusak said Grimm was recommended to her, and she thought her kids were safe in her care. She said families often feel pushed into using unlicensed daycare providers because licensed daycare facilities often have a long wait-list and are very expensive. 

"If you have to go an unlicensed daycare... do a background check, do whatever you can on the person before you send your children there, it’s really helpful," she said.

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