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Lawsuit | Daycare Accused of Drugging Infants

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A daycare owner has been accused of using Benadryl to get infants to sleep. | Image by cottonbro Studio/Pexels.

North Texas-based Button Law Firm has taken up a case in Abilene against Sondra Mata, a daycare owner who denies charges that she drugged infants to get them to sleep faster.

The alleged incident came to light after a worker at Maw’s Child Care, owned by Mata, allegedly witnessed it and came forward. It was then that Maribel Sandoval found out that her daughter, who was only 2 years old, had apparently been given Benadryl without her permission.

Benadryl, an antihistamine and sedative largely used to treat allergies, is not intended for use on children under the age of 2. The packaging states that the product should not be given to children ages 2-5 “unless directed by a doctor.”

“I am aware of the allegations that have been posted on social media,” Mata wrote in a July 2021 statement reported by KRBC Abilene after the employee had quit and made the accusations. “As a licensed childcare facility, I assure you that we are regulated and monitored routinely by Texas Health and Human Services to ensure we are providing quality care for the children who are left in our care.”

In mid-December 2022, the parent and former client of Maw’s Child Care brought the case to Dallas attorney Russell Button.

Button said Maw’s Child Care had “undoubtedly one of the worst daycare track records we’ve seen.”

Mata was arrested last week and charged with endangering a child, which is a second-degree felony, according to KRBC. She was released from jail after paying a $10,000 bail on December 28. She has denied requests from the media for comment.

Mata said in her original statement in 2021, before she was arrested, that she had worked hard to set up “an affordable childcare program with a focus on providing a safe place for the children’s social, emotional, and physical development.”

Button claims that the first few months after the establishment opened its doors illustrated a very different reality. He noted that giving Benadryl to a young child could have severe consequences, including death.

“It is downright dangerous of Maw’s Child Care to put the lives of children at risk because the director and workers were too lazy to do their job,” said Button, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “We are thankful that Ms. Sandoval’s daughter did not have a fatal reaction to the unapproved medication.”

Within three months of opening in 2021, the center reportedly received 21 citations for not ensuring that minimum standards were met, including not properly checking the background of three employees, according to the lawsuit.

To avoid a similar situation, Jerletha McDonald, founder and CEO of Arlington DFW Child Care, suggested parents should use the Texas Health and Human Services website to find childcare providers. The website enables parents to ensure proper licensure and read about any violations.

“Ask what their ratios are, what curriculum do they offer and what activities do they do,” McDonald recommended, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

Bethany Edwards, the director of Early Learning Alliance in Tarrant County, said parents should check out the facilities, talk to the director, and learn the rules ahead of time.

“Be educated on the policies and really push and require answers if something seems off,” Edwards advised.

“If [children] ever said something about having some type of yummy juice or you know, something that just like sounded a little off — listen to your kids,” Edwards added.

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