In a recent case in Ocala, Florida a daycare was cited for negligence when a one-year-old child climbed onto a chair, fell, landed on his head and later died from severe head injuries. The daycare was a private daycare in the home of a woman who had been denied licensure because the person living with her had a criminal record and did not pass the background investigation. She ignored the denial and proceeded with operating the daycare, which ultimately ended in this tragedy. Other instances of unlicensed daycare include those who have had a license suspended, those who are operating under a license that has not been renewed, and those who are operating despite a license that has been revoked.
Daycares are established all the time, from the person who takes in a few neighborhood children, to a fully licensed and educational facility. The quality and cost of a person finding daycare can be excessive, and this prompts many to start a business such as a daycare center on a relatively thin budget, while caring for their own children at the same time. After all, why not take in a few more? While many may find comfort in knowing that their children are being cared for by a trusted friend, an accident could happen at any time, in anyone’s care. Neighborhood daycares are enticing because they are close to home, allow children to grow up together in the same area, and offer a familiar face. You might think the person is trusting, and chances are she probably is. But, what recourse do you have if your child is injured?
Daycare injuries can happen as in the one above where the child fell. Other instances occur when the attendant is not paying attention, when a child is shaken excessively or punished to the point of injury, in a car accident when the operator transports the child or children in a vehicle, or if a child chokes on an object at the daycare. If the establishment is receiving payment for the services of taking care of the children, then it can be determined that the daycare is a “business” in most cases. Here are some things you want to check:
- Is the daycare insured through comprehensive liability insurance?
- How many children are at the center? Legally operating businesses will have limits and guidelines determined by an issued Certificate of Occupancy on how many kids they can take in. If your center seems like it is caring for an excessive amount of children, this might be a red flag.
- Are the children being transported, and does the center have appropriative vehicle insurance?
- Are there pets at the center? What if the child is bitten?
If you suspect that your child’s daycare is not licensed, you should seek alternative childcare arrangements as soon as possible. If you child has been injured at a center later found to be operating illegally, you’ll want to see the advice of an attorney who specializes in cases related to daycare injuries.
Checking into the licensure of a daycare, whether in the neighborhood or not, is not something that you should put off and may serve you and your child best in the long run.