The arrest on assault charges of two employees at a day-care center for military families has prompted the U.S. Department of Defense to review hiring practices at all of its schools, day-care centers, youth centers, and other facilities that serve children.
According to news reports, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta ordered the sweeping review after learning from U.S. Army officials about the September arrests of two Army employees, each charged with multiple counts of assault against kids, and problems with employee background checks at Virginia’s Fort Myer day-care facility.
“We need to do everything we can wherever our children are entrusted to the care of [Department of Defense-employed] personnel to insure we have the right personnel with the right background taking care of them,” Pentagon press secretary George Little told the Associated Press on Wednesday. “We want to insure that there’s consistency in the standards and policies and practices in hiring wherever military youth are involved.”
The Washington Post reported that, according to federal court records, the two employees were “recorded by surveillance cameras dragging, pinching, kneeing, and taunting toddlers.”
The center’s staffing problems apparently went much deeper than the two employees charged with assault. News reports say that more than 30 employees were found to have questionable backgrounds, including drug use and assault allegations.
Officials have closed the Fort Myer center and the children are being cared for at a nearby facility. It is the military’s largest center, serving more than 400 kids ages 6 weeks to 12 years old.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Early Years blog.