FARGO — A Fargo mother is warning other parents in the community to be cautious about who they seek child care services from after recently stumbling into an unnerving situation while seeking a babysitter.
Kattie Hutson met a woman who said she would babysit her children.
“It was great. I could call her at 9 at night and she would be there,” Hutson remembered.
Hutson said she trusted the babysitter because their significant others worked together and they "seemed nice," but she later learned through Facebook posts that the woman's boyfriend, with whom she lived, was convicted of murdering his infant son in North Dakota in 2009 and was recently released from prison.
“I don't think that's OK," she said. "You don't lie about something like that.”
Immediately after learning about the boyfriend's past, she went on a local babysitter Facebook page and warned other parents to do background checks on both caregivers and their partners because that same woman was offering to watch other kids. A review of the Facebook group found seven other occasions where the same woman offered to babysit.
Authorities have confirmed there was also a 2015 case involving the same babysitter when a baby died in her care. The Moorhead Police Department said there was a thorough investigation and autopsy which led to the decision to clear the babysitter of any wrongdoing. The case is now listed as an unattended death.
The woman and her boyfriend didn't want to go on camera but told WDAY News over the phone that they are doing nothing wrong and that they are not worried about people looking at public records of what happened.
The boyfriend's parole officer (who the North Dakota Corrections and Rehabilitation does not want to identify for this report) confirmed with WDAY that despite the boyfriend being listed as an "offender against children", he has no restrictions on being around children and that the couple has not done anything illegal by doing child care in this way. For that reason, WDAY News is not naming him or his girlfriend.
Ruby Kolpack, a child care licensing specialist with Cass County Social Services, couldn't comment on this case but said parents need to do as much as possible to vet child care providers.
“Just because somebody is a child care provider does not mean they’re good," she said. “You really do have to do your homework, and that is by getting references, knowing somebody's who's gone there, seeing their facility (and) asking a lot of questions.”
When it comes to licensed child care providers, criminal histories are exposed. But parents who are in a bind and who need to find a babysitter quickly can take certain precautions, including asking for names of everyone in the home, Googling names and checking public court records.
Hutson said she plans to be extra cautious in the future and double check anyone who watches her kids — even if she thinks she knows them. She's also thankful her post might help keep other kids out of dangerous situations. The babysitter who led to her concern has been removed from that child care Facebook group.
“Somebody messaged me today and was like: ‘Thank you!’ Katie said. “It takes a village … it really does."