KIMBERLY — A Kimberly woman who ran a day care center out of her home is facing a felony charge after a toddler under her care was found sleeping on the sidewalk late at night.
Brandi Olsen, 28, was arraigned Wednesday on one count of injury to a child.
Sunset Child Care’s license was revoked in August by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare after police found a 2-year-old sleeping alone outside on Sunset Lane and eight children left unsupervised in a house filled with trash and safety hazards. Five of those children were day care clients.
A passerby called 911 at 10:20 p.m. that night and said she found the child lying on the sidewalk under a blanket, according to a police affidavit. The woman told police the door of the house was slightly open. She said she knocked several times and nobody answered, but she could hear children inside screaming and crying.
The toddler on the sidewalk “appeared scared” but did not have any visible injuries, the responding officers said.
Police found more children in different rooms inside the house, though one room was locked and the officers weren’t able to get inside. Olsen and employee Tracy Lilue later came out of the locked room. Olsen said she didn’t hear the officers knocking because she had headphones on.
Olsen said she had checked on the children 20 minutes earlier, but didn’t know how long the 2-year-old had been outside. She told police that the toddler was a sleepwalker and said she didn’t know how he got out of the house.
The child’s mother later told Health and Welfare investigators that her son did not have issues with sleepwalking.
A review of police body camera footage showed that shortly after police arrived at the house, Olsen put a doorknob cover, meant to prevent young children from opening the door, on the front door of the house, court documents said. The cover was not on when the first officers arrived.
A police search of the house revealed a number of health and fire hazards, according to the affidavit.
The tables and counters in the kitchen and dining room “were completely covered (with) food items that were new and old, along with dirty dishes; the garbage was full and overflowing onto the floor,” police wrote.
There were plastic garbage bags filled with trash mixed in with the food in the pantry area, officers said, and the stove was covered in items that could have caused a fire if the stove was turned on, court documents said. In the dining room, a fish tank containing a turtle had dirty water, mold growing, and “a stench coming from it.”
Children were found sleeping in bedrooms “filled with clutter” and other safety hazards, such as a large piece of exercise equipment that “could have easily fallen on top of the sleeping children,” police said.
It took officers more than five minutes to find a sleeping child in Olsen’s bedroom, according to the affidavit. The child, who has special needs, was sleeping next to a window ledge with a large pocket knife “that was easily accessible to any small child,” police said.
Another moldy fish tank with a “distinct smell” was found in the same room, and the bathroom sink was “completely covered” in toiletry products, prescription medications, and over-the-counter medicines, all “easily accessible” to children.
One of the bedrooms where two small children were found sleeping had a baby gate and a hook latch on the door. Olsen told Health and Welfare investigators that the latch was there to keep the day care children out of her own children’s room.
Police said they considered the latch a safety concern because the children could not leave the room in an emergency or let Olsen or Lilue know if something was wrong.
Olsen was “unemotional” when her clients’ children and her own children were taken from the home, according to the affidavit.
She apologized to the mother of the 2-year-old found sleeping outside in a text message several days later, police said.
“I am so very sorry. I don’t know what more I can say then that,” the message read. “It makes me sick to think of what could have happened.”
The Department of Health and Welfare revoked Olsen’s license due to “non-compliance with health standards, fire standards and supervision of children,” according to an Aug. 6 letter to Olsen obtained by the Times-News through a public records request.
A preliminary hearing for Olsen is scheduled for Oct. 12.