WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Day Care Employee Arrested in Connection with Child's Death

Aug 23, 2019

The Iowa Department of Public Safety on Thursday announced the arrest of Laura McDowell, who is the Site Supervisor and Lead Teacher for Raisin Em Up Daycare in Donnellson. She is charged with Child Endangerment Causing a Death.

The agency said in a statement that paramedics responded to the Raisin Em Up facility at 607 Park Street the morning of December 3, 2018 on a report of an unresponsive child. The child was transported to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics for what was describe as “advanced medical treatment.”

The unidentified child was taken off life support eight days later and pronounced dead.

McDowell was booked in the Lee County Jail.

The agencies involved in the investigation include the Donnellson Police Department, the Lee County Attorney’s Office, the Iowa Department of Human Services, and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.


McDowell’s arrest comes as the state of Iowa is attempting to shut down the two Raisin Em Up day care centers in Donnellson.

The Iowa Department of Human Services filed Notices of Decision on June 19 against Raisin Em Up Early Learning Center and Raisin Em On Up. Both centers are owned by Sarah Tweedy.

The notices started the clock for the state to revoke their child care licenses. They list the same three reasons for doing so.

  • The centers failed to comply with child care laws
  • The centers operated in a manner that impairs the health, safety or well-being of children in their care
  • The center’s leadership provided false information to the state.

Tweedy appealed the state’s ruling.

Tweedy said the allegations against her child care centers are either inaccurate or blown way out of proportion. She also questioned the competency of the DHS investigator, who filed more than a dozen complaints against the two centers in June. Tweedy said employees told her the investigator did not accurately report their comments in her complaints.

DHS is allowing the child care centers to remain open during Tweedy's appeal.

The state agency has not responded to an inquiry from TSPR regarding the status of the appeal.