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Church day care director allegedly gave toddlers melatonin to help them sleep

Composite screenshot of WTHR-TV YouTube video

The director of a church day care in Indiana was fired and is now facing criminal charges after the pastor of the church alleged that the woman had doled out melatonin gummies to young children to help them sleep better.

According to reports, Tonya Rachelle Voris — the 52-year-old former director of Kidz Life Childcare Ministry at New Life Church in Cumberland, Indiana, near Indianapolis — first got the idea to administer melatonin gummies from a parent. That parent had asked Voris to give a gummy to his or her child to help the child sleep better during nap time, and Voris was allegedly so pleased with the results of the gummy that she began giving them to other children, even though she had not received permission from their parents.

In all, Voris and another day care worker reportedly gave 17 different children, ages 1 through 4, a daily dose of the melatonin gummies from mid-December until the end of January. When Pastor David Faulk learned about the gummies, he confronted Voris, who allegedly admitted to dispensing them. Faulk immediately fired Voris, though the other day care worker allegedly involved remains employed.

When investigators confiscated the bottle of gummies, they learned that the gummies were recommended for children 4 and older. They also learned that gummies can cause side effects, including a rash and trouble sleeping. They are recommended only for those intending to sleep for at least six hours.

Parents whose children were reportedly given the gummies have expressed outrage and claimed that some of their children have evinced the very side effects listed on the bottle's warning label. One mother even took her children to the doctor on account of their strange behavior.

"Voris’ dispensing of melatonin gummies to children without parental consent was reckless due to her being unaware of a potential allergy threat, dietary issues, and unknown side effects harming the children," the affidavit stated. She "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."

Voris was arrested and charged with 11 counts of neglect of a dependent and six counts of reckless supervision by a child care provider. She was booked into the Hancock County Jail on Monday and released on bond that same day. It is unclear when she is next expected to appear in court.

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