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Allendale day care worker sentenced for assaulting kids

By Jaleesa Irizarry/WZZM-TV • Sep 25, 2018 at 9:00 PM

ALLENDALE — A former child care worker will spend some time behind bars after hitting at least three kids at her job.

The assault was reported in February at the Rainbow Child Care Center in Allendale. On Tuesday, the parking lot at that Rainbow Childcare Center remained empty. The business closed its doors for good following a child abuse investigation.

The focus of that probe was Keyonia Ratliff, who admitted in a state investigation that she may have used "inappropriate'' discipline methods, including "flicking children's faces."

Less than two weeks after the state investigation began, a temporary suspension of Rainbow's license was ordered. In March, a recommendation was made by the Bureau of Community and Health Systems that Rainbow's license be suspended and revoked.

Ratliff, 22, pleaded guilty to three counts of assault and battery for the three victims, who were all under the age of 2 when they attended the child care facility.

"Although I understand why they decided to charge Miss Ratliff with assault and battery, her hitting my daughters constitutes child abuse," a parent of two of the victims, who did not want to be identified by her name, said in court Tuesday. "Miss Ratcliff intentionally caused physical and mental harm to vulnerable 17-month-olds. She should never be allowed to work with any children in any capacity."

Ratliff, who has no prior record, was sentenced to 10 days in jail and a year of probation. Ottawa County District Judge Judy Mulder also mandated Ratliff to seek counseling for anger management.

"When children are entrusted to your care as a caregiver, our society holds you to a little bit of a higher standard,” Mulder said at Tuesday’s sentencing. “They expect that when children are brought to you, they're not going to be hurt.”

Ratliff told the judge: "It's a mistake that I made and I am really sorry. I really didn't mean to cause any harm and I'm really sorry for it.”

Rainbow Child Care Center did confirm the permanent closure of its Allendale location. WZZM-TV asked for further comment, but has yet to hear back from the corporation.

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