Follow These Steps when You Suspect Daycare Negligence
We live in a world where it’s difficult to afford a life for our families without both parents having to work outside the home for at least part of the time. Having your young children in daycare has become a given in many families, and you want and deserve to know that your children are safe and cared for in any environment. Reasonable care includes their emotional, physical and psychological welfare with appropriate activities and security accommodations. Unfortunately, their safety is not always a given, so you must be extremely cautious about the daycare you choose. Most of the time, this prevents problems; but even then, it’s still possible to notice signs of daycare negligence.
Signs of Daycare Negligence
We see news reels full of horrifying violent or abusive behaviors at daycares. The truth is, most of the real issues requiring vigilance at our daycare revolve around negligence rather than violence, which can be just as or more dangerous than abuse. Negligence is subtler, so it may be ongoing and difficult to detect until a tragedy strikes. These children are too young to sound the alert or describe what’s happening at the facility each day, so it’s important that we protect them by watching for potential signs that negligence is happening or that they might be at risk:
- High ratio of children to staff workers – Florida Statute § 305 requires specific staff-to-child ratios in childcare facilities depending on the age of the children being serviced. If there doesn’t seem to be enough hands on deck when you drop off or pick up your child, chances are that your child might not be getting enough supervision or attention.
- Noticeably unsafe conditions in the daycare facility – There are many ways a childcare environment can be unsafe. Does there appear to be open access to office and craft supplies in an area to which your child has access? Staples, scissors, pushpins, other small objects/swallowing hazards can be very dangerous for a toddler or infant. What about cleaning supplies? Are the cabinets within reach or unlocked? What about the area itself? Homes and open areas that have sharp edges, open access fireplaces, broken glass, or pets can be hazardous. Don’t forget to check the outdoor play spaces as well.
- If your children are hungry or thirsty when you pick them up – If you’re picking up your children at dinner time, they may be understandably hungry. However, if they are consistently famished, or begging for a drink of water, you might want to investigate what snacks or drinks they had or didn’t have that day. If your child starts to lose weight or shows signs of dehydration, you’ll need to investigate asap.
- If your children have minor injuries, bruising in odd places, and frequency of injuries – Kids fall, especially older infants learning to move around, pulling up or walking. Toddlers run around with items in their hands while gaining independence. A bruised elbow or occasional bump on the head is not uncommon. However, consistent appearance of these minor injuries may call for a closer look. Lack of proper supervision can allow a child to get hurt more frequently or more seriously. When scratches and other physical marks appear on the wrist, shoulder, torso and other unusual places, there is cause to investigate possible rough handling and abuse.
- Substantial mood or other changes in your child – Variance in mood or demeanor since going to the daycare can be warning signs of emotional neglect or even abuse. If you notice your child asking questions or making unexpected sexual comments or behaviors, follow up immediately. Avoid the long-term damaging emotional effects by getting to the bottom of your child’s withdrawn or otherwise altered state. Daycare issues may be at the heart of it.
What to Do When You Suspect Daycare Negligence
Florida Statute § 39.201 requires that any person who knows, or has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is being abused, abandoned, or neglected to report the knowledge or suspicion to the Department of Children and Families.
When you suspect a problem, for the good of your child as well as other children, you need to act. When you suspect negligence or abuse at your child’s daycare, follow these steps:
- Investigate – Talk with your child’s doctor to evaluate the situation. See if other parents have noticed issues with their own children in the same daycare.
- Take your child out of the daycare – If your investigation doesn’t dissolve your fears, you’ll need to take the next step and remove your child from a possibly dangerous situation.
- Inform the authorities – Even though your child is out of harm’s way, the other children in that program and the children to come are still at risk. Allow the authorities to do a thorough investigation.
- If your child has been harmed in any way, contact an attorney. Your child may require extra care and resources to deal with the fallout from their experience at the daycare.
It’s important to act on your suspicions as soon as possible to prevent further danger to your child and to other children. If you’re aware of any potential harm done to your child on an emotional, physical or psychological level, pursuing compensation is in your child’s best interest. Our compassionate and knowledgeable team at Tison Law Group will help you understand your legal options. Call us today for your free consultation.