Mothers speak about Grove City woman's daycare, believe they "failed" as parents

A photo of Kimberly Hignite (Franklin County Jail)

What police say happened at a house off White Road in Grove City parents can't believe.

It's where the Franklin County Sheriff's Office executed a search warrant in May where it says Kimberly Hignite, 51, operated an unlicensed daycare and sexually abused children.

"I went and I interviewed this woman," one mother said. "I went to her house. I knew her for a year before I brought my child there and I talked to her references. So, I did everything as a parent."

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The mother did not want to be identified but says she did everything she could to vet Hignite.

So did Amanda Bush, whose daughter stayed with Hignite last July through September. She says Hignite had a reputation of being the best sitter in town.

"When somebody makes you you that warm and fuzzy...and she came highly recommended," Bush said. "Her references were impeccable."

She says after her daughter started at the daycare, she began losing her hair and would pull it out any time she became stressed. She was also emotional at drop off. Bush thought it was a typical behavior, then. But not with hindsight.

"Screaming, crying, she was trying to tell me she didn't want to go and I failed," Bush said.

The other mother feels the same after she learned of the allegations.

"I was just more like in shock, but now I'm just disgusted at what she did and I feel like I failed as a parent," she said.

When police showed up in May, they say Hignite wasn't home but her mother was caring for 23 children.

"We, as parents, knew that there were a bunch of kids there, but we never imagined that there were 24 kids and only one adult," the mom said.

Both parents say at pick up, the child would be brought to them. They never had to go inside.

"I thought it was great," Bush said. "You just got off work, there's your kid ready to go. You don't have to make small talk, you don't have to worry about where's her cup, where's her this, where's her that...they had it all ready for you."

Following the search, parents had to talk tothe police and be investigated by Child Protective Services as a precaution, according to one mother.

"We found out [Hignite] had kept a pile of kids in rooms with the door shut and my child was one of them and I had no idea," the mom said.

She says detectives told her her daughter was found, unattended, in a room with the door shut and was strapped into the wrong car seat. She believes her child was left in a car seat for entire days. Her daughter is now 15 months old and she says she still can't walk.

"But, I absolutely, firmly believe it is because my child was in a car seat all day," the mom said.

Bush says she's learned from other parents that some children would go without food and water as a punishment for being upset, or if they didn't listen.

Hignite is facing five counts of gross sexual imposition and seventeen counts of endangering children.

Bush doesn't believe her daughter was abused.

"I want to say that I forgive her, but actually I hope that when she goes to prison the other inmates treat her as well as she treated everybody's children," Bush said.

Hignite's arraignment is scheduled for Friday. Some parents are planning on attending.

"What we want is just to make sure that she doesn't watch kids ever again," one mom said.