Breaches found at facilities linked to Westport childcare center at center of abuse allegations

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Three months after a Westport daycare operator fired a teacher for allegedly abusing infants, the company’s Fairfield site fired an employee for pulling a child’s hair and ‘being rough along with others, according to a review by Hearst Connecticut Media of state inspection reports.

The company’s Norwalk site was also cited by the state for failing to provide first aid or notify parents of a child of a head injury until called. because the child began to vomit, according to an inspection report. In another case, an employee was fired after an inspector observed three infants sleeping in unsafe equipment, records show.

The Bright Beginnings Early Childhood program owner and three staff were arrested recently after Westport Police announced an investigation in June determined that a head teacher moved the children “aggressively”, kicked the babies in a ball and left some of them crying for long periods of time.

The state Department of Children and Families investigator said the employee, Suzette Virgo, “admitted to kicking the children,” who were between 5 and 12 months old, “in the side head with her fingers as a form of punishment and to scare them,” the warrant said. Virgo later told police she never hit the children and made the sound of the flick to alert them, the warrant said.

The DCF investigator also learned that Virgo called the children “degrading names” such as “fat monkey” and “fat jerk”, according to the arrest warrant.

Other Bright Beginnings employees said they saw Virgo giving bottles to some of the children. A mother told investigators that her children’s clothes were soiled two to three times a week, depending on the warrant.


The investigation was triggered by a complaint from a former DCF employee. The company has four locations – in Westport, Fairfield, Stamford and Norwalk, according to its website.

The owner, Ridhita Gupta, has been accused of failing to report child abuse as part of the Westport investigation.

On Wednesday, no one answered the door to Gupta’s house in Darien. A message left for his lawyer was not returned.

The daycare centers were founded in Stamford in 2011, according to the company’s website.

The company’s location in Westport leases space from the United Methodist Church of Westport and Weston.

A June 2020 article on the church’s website advertised the “all-new, state-of-the-art facility.”

The pastor, the Reverend Heather Sinclair, said she learned about the investigation Tuesday through the media and described the church’s relationship with the company as commercial.

“We are certainly saddened to learn of these allegations,” Sinclair said in an interview Wednesday. “Above all, our prayers are simply that the matter will be addressed thoroughly and that there will be a resolution for the healing and care of all families.”

She said the church has not yet decided to reevaluate its relationship with the company.

“I think we’ll see what any investigation brings,” she said. “We certainly don’t have any concrete ideas on that at the moment.”

In addition to the alleged abuse investigated after the June incident, an inspection of the Westport facility last December revealed that a child had been left unsupervised alone in a classroom, which resulted in disciplinary action and retraining.

The employee involved in this incident was not named in the report. Yet Virgo was suspended for three days last December “for failing to supervise a child”, according to the arrest warrant related to the June incident.

According to state records, the Fairfield hair-pulling incident prompted a Sept. 22 inspection of the state Office of Early Childhood, which licenses child care.

“The operator failed to use proper child behavior management techniques when the teacher was observed pulling a child’s hair and being rough with other children in her class,” the teacher said. inspection report, available online.

A corrective action plan from the same date indicates that the employee was terminated and other staff members were retrained.

A follow-up inspection in October found no violations at the Fairfield site.

At the Norwalk site, an employee was fired after an unannounced inspection in July 2020 found the company was breaking rules calling for infants under 12 months to sleep in freestanding cribs – two were in bouncers and one was in a swing, according to the report.

The Norwalk location also reported an incident in May where staff failed to seek first aid for a child who fell and hit his head, failed to have the injury assessed, and failed to informed the parents of the head injury until the child began to vomit and the parents were called to pick her up, according to an inspection report.

The report also said: ‘There was only one member of staff in the room with seven toddlers when a toddler fell. Staff were not actively supervising at the time of the incident. The document does not specify whether the head injury and the fall resulted from the same incident.

That investigation was closed, according to documents available online, after the company filed a corrective action plan saying staff had been retrained.

It is unclear whether the company’s other locations have been investigated by DCF or police.

A DCF spokesperson declined to comment on Bright Beginnings specifically on Wednesday, citing privacy laws, but said if the agency receives notice of allegations it believes to be criminal in nature, it will work with police and the Early Childhood Bureau to investigate.

“This is a reminder to family members, friends, co-workers and concerned citizens that if they believe a child has been harmed or are concerned about the way a child is being treated, contact Protective Services. against abuse and neglect. line at 1-800-842-2288,” said Ken Mysogland, chief of the agency’s external affairs office.

Writer Raga Justin contributed to this report.

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