The playground at HGCDC where Clementine Jones reportedly sustained her injury. Alberto Pujazon/PSU Vanguard.

Helen Gordon Center fails to call 911 for injured child

Records show a history of non-compliance with staff safety trainings

The following article contains content depicting graphic images and details regarding an injured child. Some individuals may find this disturbing, we advise reader and viewer discretion when proceeding.


Rachel Jones answered her phone around 11:30 a.m. on Oct. 17, 2023. The call came from Helen Gordon Child Development Center (HGCDC), where her 2-year-old daughter, Clementine Jones, attended daycare. 


On the other line, HGCDC front office receptionist, Lynette Choi, informed Rachel Jones her daughter had bitten her lip, and that she recommended that Rachel Jones come to the school.


“To me, it didn’t feel urgent, because it said she just bit her lip,” Rachel Jones said. “So what I did was I said, ‘well, let me go to the kitchen.’ It’s just how unurgent it felt.”


Rachel Jones recalled deciding to stop by her apartment first to pick up some snacks for Clementine Jones, since—by that time—she figured the kids had not had lunch yet.


“I’m picturing a child biting their tongue,” said Rachel Jones, recalling her frame of mind when she got the call. “You know, when you bite your tongue. We even, as adults, bite our tongue and it hurts really bad. That’s honestly the visual I had in my mind.” 

Clementine’s injury was originally said to be due to her biting her lip. The official report would later state it was caused by another child shoving her into the green plastic cap on the play structure. Courtesy of Rachel Jones.

Clementine Jones sustained a three-quarter-inch laceration to her lip while on the playground at the center. According to Rachel Jones, HGCDC staff did not call 911 at the time of the injury, despite the wound actively gushing blood when she finally made it to the center.


Since the incident, Rachel Jones filed to sue HGCDC for failure to provide first aid and contact emergency services, according to the tort claim notice Rachel Jones’ attorney, Kevin Brague, sent to the center on Feb. 7, 2024. 


The first injury report HGCDC released stated that Clementine Jones “was playing with another child and was pushed. She fell and hit her lip on the play structure—bit her lip?” Later, Lynn Green—Director of HGCDC—updated the report to add that it was “probably on the wood or plastic cap of the structure.” The updated report also added that “she was standing on the ground & was pushed from behind.” 


Both of Clementine Jones’ teachers in her Caterpillar Room class were on break at the time. Three other teachers were supervising the children on the playground, one of whom was two feet away from Clementine Jones at the time, according to the injury report.    


About five minutes after the first call, the receptionist at the childcare center called Rachel Jones again, asking her how far away she was. Rachel Jones told her she would arrive in about five minutes, as she was already on campus and headed over. The receptionist then informed her that Clementine Jones had bitten through the second layer of her skin and had begun to bleed badly. 


Rachel Jones recalled being on the phone with the receptionist when she walked into the HGCDC entrance and immediately heard screaming and crying. 


“It sounds like her life is in danger,” Rachel Jones said, recalling the event. “I walk into the lobby, and I see Clementine stretched out on the floor by herself, arms and legs like a crime scene.” 


Clementine Jones lay alone on her back, with legs wide open, arms down by her sides on the lobby floor. Four adults were in the room, but none attended to her, said Rachel Jones.


Something had split Clementine Jones’ lip on the left side, leaving an approximately three-quarter-inch gash, according to the HGCDC injury report. Her daughter’s clothing was covered in blood, Rachel Jones recalls. 


Rachel Jones immediately burst out crying, panic setting in. She considered calling the police at that moment. 


“I kind of reach for my phone a little bit, like, ‘should I call 911?’” Rachel Jones said. “And they was like, ‘no you need to take her to the emergency room.’” 


Green later told Rachel Jones that staff did not immediately call an ambulance, because they were waiting to see whether or not Rachel Jones wanted to take her to the hospital. In the event of a medical emergency, however, licensed childcare centers are responsible for calling emergency services, according to Oregon Department of Education’s (ODE) Early Learning Division. 


Justine Larson—a studio teacher at HGCDC—asked Rachel Jones if she had a car. 


Rachel Jones told Larson that she didn’t drive because she lived in campus housing. Larson then asked if Rachel Jones had a car seat and offered to drive her and Clementine Jones to the hospital. 


Rachel Jones happened to have a travel seat in her dorm across campus that she had used for their flight from the East Coast, where Rachel Jones is originally from. Larson told Rachel Jones that, if she went and got the seat, Larson would take her to the emergency room. 


“I didn’t know what to do,” Rachel Jones said. “I’m just thinking, like, I don’t know. This is my first child.”


In a panicked state, Rachel Jones picked up Clementine Jones—whose lip was still bleeding—and hurried across campus to grab the travel seat and meet Larson back at the childcare center. Larson drove Rachel Jones and her daughter to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center on the other side of the Willamette River, three miles away from the childcare center. 


The hospital staff immediately sent the mother and child in an ambulance to Randall Children’s Hospital (RCH) to see a specialist. Rachel Jones texted her longtime friend Maria when she arrived at RCH, who came to the hospital along with her mother, who goes by D. Camille. 


At RCH, Clementine Jones underwent sedation twice, receiving stitches and glue on her lip and spending a total of eight hours at the hospital, according to a complaint letter filed with the Oregon Office of Child Care Licensing in Dec. 2023.


Safety first

As a certified childcare center, HGCDC must train all staff in safety set training courses, including the “Introduction to Childcare Health and Safety” and “Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect.” ODE’s Early Learning Division requires childcare staff to complete these courses within 30 days of hiring and annually thereafter for any staff with unsupervised access to children. 


For at least the past four years, HGCDC consistently failed to have a fully trained staff on the safety courses. ODE’s Early Learning Division public childcare safety portal records do not show detailed reports earlier than 2020. 


On Oct. 23, 2023, three days after Clementine Jones’ injury, an Early Learning Division compliance visit to HGCDC showed that—within the required timeline—four staff did not have training in the “Introduction to Childcare Health and Safety” course, three staff had not completed “Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect” training and two had not completed “Foundations for Learning,” according to the public childcare safety portal. 


Five months earlier in May, 2023, eight staff members had not completed the “Introduction to Childcare Health and Safety” or the “Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect.”


Training violations are considered a non-serious non-compliance issue, so the fee for a civil penalty of this kind is $50 per violation. 


Emails between Amber Bayker—Office of Child Care Licensing Specialist—and Priscilla Lowells—Senior Legal and Compliance Specialist—revealed that within the Office of Child Care, there was a conversation about consequences for HGCDC considering the pending renewal of their license at the time. 


“This program hires new staff with every new semester and are constantly not in compliance for trainings,” stated Bayker in an email dated March 7, 2023. “I have not issued their annual due to trainings not being completed at the time of visit… I do think that we should keep issuing the CP because they are not staying in compliance – I would even say they have not come into compliance at all.”


In June, 2023, the childcare licensing sent HGCDC a civil penalty of $225 for training non-compliance. 


The staff is now up to date on all training requirements. On March 14, 2024, the center had an assessment and successfully renewed its license. The renewal came one month after Brague sent the tort claim notice to the center, notifying the center that Rachel Jones was suing them.


“HGCDC’s admitted lack of training, failure to provide first aid, failure to contact emergency services, and failure to provide a modicum of human compassion and care for a suffering child transcends ordinary negligence and is an extraordinary transgression of the bounds of socially tolerable behavior,” stated Brague in the Feb 7. notice.


Since the incident 

As a single mom, Rachel Jones found herself overwhelmed with taking care of Clementine Jones in the days following her daughter’s Oct. 17 injury. She took her daughter out of HGCDC and began taking care of her daily. Rachel Jones stopped going to classes shortly after. 


“I couldn’t really mentally juggle being a mom and being in school at the same time,” Rachel Jones said. “It came with depression and feeling like I don’t know how this affects her, ‘cause she doesn’t talk… I didn’t want her desire to be able to speak or to hear go away.”


Clementine Jones has congenital cytomegalovirus, which means that she is non-verbal and wears hearing aids. At some point during the chaos of the incident, she lost her left hearing aid.


“The lady in the car told me the left hearing aid is still at the school,” Rachel Jones said, recalling Larson driving her and Clementine Jones to the hospital. 


Rachel Jones met with Green in the days following the incident, foremost to ask where her daughter’s left hearing aid was and how to potentially replace it.


Green emailed Rachel Jones on Nov. 1, 2023, expressing concern about getting the hearing aid funded as soon as possible through paperwork sent by the Portland State Office of Risk Management.


“We have some movement on getting the hearing aid replaced that is missing,” Green stated. “I have been instructed to send you another claim form… I wanted to be specific about which part is missing and for which ear so it is clear on the form in order to lessen any delays by being as clear as possible. Is the missing part just the amplifier?”  


As the weeks went by, Green stopped responding to Rachel Jones. On behalf of Rachel Jones, D. Camille followed up with the Office of Risk Management, who informed her that Green said her staff had put the hearing aid back in the child’s ear before leaving the center. In that case, replacing the hearing aid was not HGCDC’s responsibility. 


The office provided Rachel Jones with an insurance claim for the hearing aid, which she filed in early Nov. 2023. A follow-up with the insurance company stated that processing the claim would take a while, and there was uncertainty as to whether or not the insurance company would validate the claim. 


On Dec. 15, 2023, Rachel Jones left Portland and returned to the East Coast to have Clementine Jones’ ears checked and obtain a replacement hearing aid for her. She is still there, having dropped out of PSU and now homeschooling her daughter while working. 


Clementine Jones had only received hearing aids a few months before her first time at HGCDC. Rachel Jones put her daughter in the center in Sept. 2023 when she first began classes at PSU that fall term, this being her first time putting her daughter in any sort of childcare.


Green denied PSU Vanguard’s requests for interviews with her and the staff present at the time of the injury.

“We take our responsibility of caring for children seriously and therefore safety is paramount at the center,” stated Green in the email to PSU Vanguard. “We will continue to prioritize the safety and development of our children and employees, and have no further comment on this matter at this time.”