Articles Posted in Day Care Centers and Child Care

https://www.floridachildinjurylawyer.com/files/2017/05/Day-Care-Center-Book-Graphic.001-150x150.jpegIn the State of Florida, parent rely on day care centers to properly care for and supervise their children during time periods in which there are work and personal commitments that require the use of a day care center.  It can be quite disheartening to a parent to work a full day only to pick up a child at a day care center who has been injured, battered, abused, neglected, and / or harmed.  It should be noted that a day care center is not an absolute insurer for the safety of a child.  In other words, a day care center is not automatically liable for damages every single time that a child is injured at a day care center.  In order to establish liability or responsibility on behalf of the day care center, four elements must be established to form the basis of a claim or case against the day care center as follows:

Duty;

Breach of Duty;

Fractured-Arm-150x150In Florida, working parents rely on day care centers to provide supervision and education in a supportive environment. When there are issues or problems with a day care center, parents often question whether there is a case or claim to pursue on behalf of injured child. It should be noted that there may be a legal case or claim to pursue yet the practical considerations, costs, and risks may end up deterring some parents and attorneys from formally pursuing a case.  There are four essential elements of a day care center case as follows: 1 – Duty  2 – Breach of Duty  3 – Causation  4 – Damages
Based in Jacksonville, Florida, David Wolf is a partner in the law firm of Wood, Atter & Wolf.  As a child injury attorney and advocate, David Wolf handles cases throughout the State of Florida.  He is the author of 10 books including books that focus on child injury matters.  He is the author of the book – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know and the book titled – Florida Day Care Center Injuries – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – Building Blocks of Knowledge for Parents. For over 26 years, David Wolf has represented injured children and their families in the aftermath of an accident or incident causing personal injuries. Read more about the books written by David Wolf at Personal Injury Books and Resources for Clients and Prospective Clients.
In evaluating the potential elements of a case, it is important to consider the particular facts, circumstances, evidence, and law on point.  It should be noted that all four elements must be established to pursue a case on a behalf of an injured child.  From a practical standpoint, the case or claim may not be pursued if the injuries were minimal and do not require much in the way of medical intervention and treatment.  Of course, each claim or case should be evaluated on its own facts and circumstances.

Toy-Graphics-from-Free-Pik-copy-150x150In Orange County, Florida and other areas, day care centers are located on or just off of busy streets, highways, and roads. There have been reports across the nation of vehicles crashing into day care centers.  It would seem like a rare and odd incident but cars crashing into buildings housing schools and day care centers happens far too frequently.  Orange County, Florida is taking measures to help support and encourage day care centers to put barriers in place for the protection of the children, staff, and visitors to the day care center.

A new county ordinance has emerged in Orange County, which requires new daycares to be built with protective barriers. This ordinance follows a tragic occurrence two years ago when four-year old Lily Quintus, died after a vehicle crashed into her daycare. One vehicle hit another causing it to spin out of control and land in a daycare center. Thirteen people, including one adult, were taken to local hospitals with their conditions ranging from minor injuries to critical condition. See More Options in Place to Protect Children at Orange County Day Cares.

Now, newer daycares in the area could be mandated to have barriers in place prior to their opening. The barriers can vary from concrete balls to large, decorative pots. In addition to these barriers, some other precautions day care facilities can take are adding fences. Fences can also play a two-fold role by protecting children from unexpected vehicle accidents as well as from local wanderers. Most day care facilities have playgrounds with children running around outside. For day care facilities near main roads, these fences should be durable enough to protect the children if a car were to hit the fence. Day cares can also create their own rules to make sure children do not cross a certain line or area.

4_ToysIn Florida and other States, day care centers should essentially be safe havens for children. Hard working parents deserve the comfort and peace of mind knowing that a child is safe and protected in a day care center. Unfortunately, far too many children are injured in the very places (day care centers / child care centers) where the children should be otherwise in a safe learning environment. In the aftermath of a child injury at a Florida day care center, a parent is faced with many questions, challenges, and stresses. It is at this time that a Florid Child Injury Lawyer can provide some help, guidance, advice, and, when necessary, legal representation. David Wolf has over 26 years of experience. From this first day on the job as an attorney to the present day, he has spent the duration of his entire legal career to the protection and enforcement of the legal rights of children. He is the author of a number of books including the book titled – Florida Day Care Center Injuries – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – Building Blocks of Knowledge for Parents. This book has chapters on Indoor Facilities, Outdoor Facilities, Playgrounds, Staffing, Emergency Procedures, Incident Reports, and other topics. You can get this book for free at Florida Day Care Center Injuries.

When evaluating a potential day care center case, there are four elements to establish:

1 – Duty;

4_ToysIn day care centers throughout Florida including Miami, the children enrolled in the child care facility should be provided with safe and nurturing environment.  It is important for child care providers and workers to have proper training, common sense, and, yes, patience to work with children.  If working with children causing a person stress to the point that a child is hit and struck by a day care center work, that particular worker should be removed from the job, go to jail, and ultimately find a new career.  Working with children is no easy task; however, employment in a child care facility or day care center is a voluntary choice by a day care worker.  As such, no-one is forcing the day care worker to take the position.  Unfortunately, far too many instances of abuse and neglect go unnoticed and unreported.  Parents are kept in the dark and the children in the day care center are often victims without a voice and without the power to stop their abusers.  However, in many other instances, the day care center worker is caught in the act by another co-worker, management, parents, or other children who take that bold step to report the incident and have the conduct addressed. It is clear that day care center workers should use their efforts and abilities to act in the best interest of the children.  It is well known that the care and supervision of a children are not easy tasks; nevertheless, in Florida day care centers, corporal punishment is prohibited.  There is no excuse or defense to the hitting, torturing, and harming of a child enrolled in a day care center by a the very people responsible for caring for the child.

It was reported by various media outlets that a day care center through a private charter school in Miami Beach was the site of the corporal punishment / abuse of children under the care of the child care center.  In particular, a video surveillance camera revealed that a child care worker documented the hitting, twisting of arms, and other abuse of children who were in the 2 to 3 year old age group.  When the abuse originally came to light, no immediate arrests were made.  Then, after a week or so of further investigation by social service and local law enforcement, the day care center worker – Clara Luz Quintero-Gonzalez – was arrested.  For more information regarding these incidents, see Miami, Florida Day Care Center Worker Arrested for Hitting Children Under her Care at the Lincoln Marti Day Care Center.

It should be noted that the criminal prosecution of a day care center worker is not a prerequisite or requirement for a parent to bring a civil action or claim on behalf of a child who was injured or harmed by a day care center provider.  Certainly, it is quite compelling when a day care center worker is arrested following an allegation of abuse or neglect.  Furthermore, having video surveillance that actually documents the alleged abuse or neglect can be used as evidence in the potential criminal case or civil case of abuse / neglect in a day care center.  If there is believed to probable cause that a crime was committed, an arrest can and should be made. The further prosecution of the defendant will depend on the evidence gathered and potential defenses (if any) that may be raised in response to the allegations.  The criminal allegations must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.  For a civil case, the standard of proof is by the preponderance of the evidence with is lesser standard than for a criminal case.

Stroller - Child Safety - Personal Injury
During the summer and other months in warm weather States, children are at risk for heat related illnesses including by not limited to hyperthermia.  It is important that summer camps, schools, day care centers, and other child care providers understand that children respond and handle the heat much differently than adults.  Furthermore, a child does not necessary verbalize or even recognize himself or herself when there is a risk of serious complications from the heat. This is especially true for infants, toddlers, and special needs children who are not communicative.   According to Dr.  Ross Tobleman, an emergency medical director based in Texas, “Little children can certainly get into trouble very quickly without having us recognize the signs that they’re getting trouble.”  This is a reference to heat and medical complications.   It should be noted that the metabolism and body of a child works much differently than that of an adult.  You can read more about this topic at Heat Related Illnesses Harder to Detect in Children.

In this article, it is interesting to note that strollers and other confined spaces can present a real risk of danger, medical complication, and even death to children in the heat of summer and other months.   Since children do not sweat or control body temperature the same as an adult, a glance at a child may lead a child care provider to believe that all is well because the child is not sweating profusely or appear to be that hot or overexposed to the heat.  The truth is that child care provides, on many occasions, do not and cannot see that a child is truly a risk and approaching a critical overexposure to the heat.   Some times, it is only the child’s outward signs of trauma, arrest, or other significant issues that finally alerts the child care provider that there is a problem.

In Florida, child care providers, summer camps, day care centers, schools and other entities have a duty to keep a child out of harm’s way.  One known risk is the Florida heat.  Make sure that a child – especially infants and toddlers – are provided with proper ventilation when in confined spaces like a stroller. Furthermore, as we have seen far too many times, a child should not be left unattended on a school bus or school van without air conditioning.   Let’s make sure that this point is clear.   A child needs to be supervised at all times and should never be left on a bus or van alone – air conditioned or without air conditioning.

Kids Wooden Blocks Spelling Mom And Dad As Symbol for Parenthood
In the State of Florida, corporal punishment is prohibited in day care centers.  There are strong public policy and safety reasons for having such a law in place.  It does not matter that the teacher of the day care center was subjected to corporal punishment as part of his or her upbringing.  Furthermore, a parent cannot and should consent to the imposition of corporal punishment at a day care center since it is against the law.   Toddlers and small children should learn by instruction and restrictions that DO NOT involve physical harm, pinching, punching, withholding of food, false imprisonment, or other acts that are neglectful and / or malicious in manner.   Because of this, it is important that Florida day care centers are staffed with trained and caring individuals who have the personality, patience, and maturity to deal with the stresses and demands of the job.  Certainly, it is challenging to be a day care center worker or child care provider.   When the stress intensifies, the day care worker / child care worker should step back and assess or reassess his or her current actions, his or next actions, and the rest of the day.

In Quincy, Florida, it was reported that a day care center worker at All My Children Learning Center is facing criminal charges of battery and cruelty to a child.  It was reported that a day care center teacher pinched a 4 year old child under her care to the point that the child was bruised and needed medical attention.
There may be a number of legal cases that result from corporal punishment cases or incidents including the following:

Kids Wooden Blocks Spelling Mom And Dad As Symbol for Parenthood

During the holiday season and all other times of year, it is important for parents, schools, and day care centers to be aware of the dangers that some toys cause to children.  If a child is injured by the use, play, or contact with a toy, the owner of the home, day care center, or school may be held liable if there was an issue with the supervision of the child, if the toy at issue was known to be dangerous, or if the toy was inappropriate for the age and maturity of the child.

Federal safety standards are put in place in an effort to reduce the risk of injuries to children from toys. Even with these standards in place, it is estimated that every three minutes a child is injured by a toy and makes a trip to the emergency room. This equates to approximately 250,000 children going to the emergency room in 2013 alone. In addition, the U.S. Consumer Protection Safety Commission estimated roughly nine children died in 2013 from toy related injuries.

With internet shopping becoming more prevalent, more and more parents are purchasing toys online. A problem with online shopping is that parents are unable to physically view the toys for safety issues and are often unable to read all of the warnings printed on the package. Without the ability to physically see the toy to locate unknown dangers or to read all warnings, parents may be purchasing toys that are not fit for the age and maturity of their child. A lack of knowledge regarding the safety of a toy can lead to serious injuries to children.

Kids Wooden Blocks Spelling Mom And Dad As Symbol for Parenthood
Day care centers have a duty to provide supervision to the children enrolled in the program.   As part of this supervision, child care providers should make sure that all exits and areas are secure and that no children wander away from the facility. It is well known that children are curious and lack good safety awareness.  As such, at times, a child will wander away from the facility.   This, in turn, may lead to serious personal injuries or even the death of the child.  This raises the issue as to whether the day care center is liable when a child wanders away from the facility.   From a practical standpoint, it may be difficult to pursue a civil case or claim when there was no physical harm caused to the child during the wandering away incident or event.

For instance, let’s say that a child wanders away and is just about to cross the street.  The child is outside of the facility for about 5 minutes and is found by a police officer who happened to be in the area.  The child is promptly returned to the day care center.  Certainly, the child could have been seriously harmed in the busy traffic just outside of this day care center. Furthermore, the child would have been seriously injured but for the presence of the attentive police officer.  However, based on the facts as presented, the child was unharmed and promptly returned to the facility.   The day care center was certainly negligent and may be fined or even closed for such conduct; however, there was no physical harm caused to the child. 
In some States, a physical injury would be required to pursue a civil case or claim for personal injuries or harm to a child. In other States, not such proof would be required; however, in each instance, it would be a difficult case to pursue from a damage / value perspective. If the facts are changed, the case is much different. 

Kids Block Spelling Dad As Symbol for Fatherhood And ParentingOne basic duty of every day care center is to supervise the children to make sure that the children do not wander out of the facility and into harm’s way.  The fact is that most day care centers are located on or near a busy road or expressway.   The busy roads are dangerous.  The parking lots are also dangerous to children especially toddlers who have very poor safety awareness.  Keeping a child safe should be a priority for every day care center.  Unfortunately, some day care centers are not so diligent with the supervision of the children.  Doors are left open, facilities are not kept in good repair, and most importantly supervision is lax.  Many day care centers put profits or income over the safety and supervision of the children.  Many hire low paying personnel with little or no training.  Furthermore, many such day care center workers are not motivated to put in a hard day’s work and do as little as possible just to get through the day and to the next paycheck. Of course, there are many hard working child care providers out there who work diligently to keep children safe and well supervised during the day.
When a child wanders out of a day care facility, the consequences can be disastrous and even deadly.  What if a chid wanders away from a day care center?  Can the center be sued?  These are common but excellent questions. There are four basic elements to bring forth a legal case or lawsuit against a day care center.
1. Duty;