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Ex-Day Care Director Who Fed Children Melatonin Gets 6 Months in Jail

A former church day care director in Indiana has been sentenced to six months in jail after admitting that she had fed melatonin gummies to more than a dozen young children without their parents’ consent, court records show.

The former director, Tonya Rachelle Voris, 53, was arrested last year after the church’s pastor notified police that she had handed out “pediatric strength melatonin” to children ages 1 to 4 who were under her care at Kidz Life Childcare Ministry in Cumberland, Ind., according to the documents.

Ms. Voris pleaded guilty in January to more than a dozen charges of neglect and reckless supervision and was sentenced on Friday to six months in jail, and about 18 months of probation.

Neither her lawyer nor the prosecutor could be immediately reached for comment on Monday afternoon.

According to court documents, Ms. Voris’s use of melatonin began in December 2022, after a parent gave the day care center permission to give the sleep aid to their child during the scheduled daily two-hour nap. Ms. Voris then began administering melatonin to other children, without their parents’ consent, the documents show.

David M. Faulk, the pastor of New Life Church in Cumberland, Ind., said in a court affidavit that he was told that Ms. Voris “was pleased with the effects of the melatonin.” She gave the children varying doses of Vicks Pure Zzzs Kidz chamomile-and-lavender-flavored melatonin gummies, according to the documents. Each gummy contains 0.5 milligrams of melatonin. The product’s label says the gummies are intended for children ages 4 and up.

Ms. Voris continued giving the children melatonin for several weeks, until the behavior came to Mr. Faulk’s attention, he said in the affidavit. He fired her on Jan. 30, 2023.

Parents of children at the day care center later told detectives that their children had difficulty sleeping through the night, exhibited erratic behavior, irritability and headaches, according to court documents. One parent said that their 1-year-old child developed a skin rash, considered a common allergic reaction to the supplement.

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