Articles Posted in Day Care Centers and Child Care

Day-Care-Center-Toy-Blocks-150x150A day care center should be a safe haven for children. It is important that the day care center management and workers are mindful of safety measures for the children enrolled in the program.  Infants and toddlers are at risk for choking from every day items at a day care center. It is well known or should be well known to the day care center workers that small children lack safety awareness.  In particular, a child will put an object in his or her mouth without thinking or understanding the consequences of such a simple act.  Whether it is a coin, button, small toy piece, bottle cap, or other item, a moment of inattention on the part of a day care center worker can lead to significant personal injuries and even the death of a child. 
 
On the checklist for any size day care center, the staff should monitor all areas accessible by the children as to choking hazards. Any and all choking hazards should be kept out of the reach of the children. In addition, there should be constant monitoring if by chance a child some how – some way manages to swallow a small object that can block the airway or cause internal damages / injuries. 
 
It was recently reported that a 10 month old child enrolled in a North Carolina day care center choked on a piece of a pine cone. The incident was reported to take place at or near the A Hug A Day Daycare Center located in Raleigh, North Carolina.  See 10 Month Old Dies at North Carolina Day Care Center Atter Choking on a Pine Cone.

https://www.floridachildinjurylawyer.com/files/2019/05/Nanny-Cam.001-150x150.jpegVideo surveillance equipment in the home, day care centers, and schools can and do go a long way in identifying abuse and preventing it.  When an infant or toddler is being abused or neglected, the child does not have the ability to advocate for himself or herself; however, a video showing such abuse can do the talking for the child.  A caregiver should exhibit restraint, love, and patience when supervising a child.  Unfortunately, there are far too many instances of abuse and neglect by the very people who are supposed to protect a child – the caregiver.

Parents should be aware of signs of abuse or neglect. An abused child will have frequent, unexplained injuries like bruises, black eyes, or cuts and often wear unusual clothing to hide these marks. A child may  seem withdrawn or have very stifled emotional reactions to things, especially pain. An abused child can often seem watchful, as if he or she is waiting for something bad to happen. A neglected child may have bad hygiene, lack proper bathing or have a noticeable body odor. Clothes can be ill-fitting or unwashed. Neglected children are frequently left unsupervised or allowed to play in unsafe situations. These are all indicators of abuse after it has already happened, but there are some methods to obtain proof of abuse.

A “nanny cam” is a webcam or other small camera placed in a parent’s home where they can monitor their babysitter to see if they are taking proper care of the children. These cameras can even be connected to the internet so parents can watch in real-time. Nanny cams are an effective way to gather evidence of a caretaker abusing a child in the event of a criminal or civil lawsuit.  While a nanny cam can document abuse, the video / audio content of the nanny cam is not always admissible in a civil or criminal case.  The admissibility of such evidence will be determined by the applicable laws in place and the rulings of the judge assigned to the case.  The State of Florida is a “two-party consent state,” which means that, if the nanny cam records both video and audio, parents must notify the babysitter that they are going to be recorded. If there is no consent, nanny cam video or audio might be ruled inadmissible in legal proceedings, according to Florida Statute section 934.03. Nonetheless, nanny cams are the among the best ways to show definitive proof of child abuse, especially when the child is unable to properly communicate.  When hiring a nanny, it may be advisable to have the nanny sign an employment form which advises the nanny that the home is equipped with audio and video equipment at random parts of the home.  While this will give the nanny notice that he or she is being watched, it does not necessary inform the nanny where the equipment is set up.  If the parent incorporates this language into a longer document, the nanny may ultimately forget what he or she signed and still engage in abusive conduct that is documented on the video even with knowledge of the equipment in place.

Day-Care-Center-Safety-150x150In Florida and other states, day care center related laws require minimal standard or training for staff members.  With or without these standards in place, the safety of children warrant this training and more.  When selecting a day care center, it is important to find out information as to training, licensure, and prior inspections. Training is needed for all aspects of care from food consumption to sleeping protocols.

Day care professionals are required to receive a certain level of training before they can work at a day care. In the State of Florida, a person must complete 40 hours of training and pass a competency exam, then an additional 10 hours of in-service training. This intensive training is designed to prepare them for any situation that could come their way while watching children. They become familiarized with basic first aid and CPR, as well as making accommodations for children with allergies or special needs children. There is even more training that must be taken if a caretaker intends to work with children under 24 months. This includes understanding safe sleeping practices to prevent SIDS, general head trauma prevention, and brain development. In short, training for day care providers is meant to keep the children enlisted in the day care as safe as possible.

If this training is not received, the results can be disastrous. A child can get seriously hurt or killed if in the care of an improperly or inadequately trained person. While this situation would likely result in the shutting down of the day care, this does not ameliorate the pain suffered by bereaved parents In order to avoid this, parents should take care to research the day care they intend to send their children to. Just a few hours of online browsing, reading, and related training could save their child’s life.

Summer-150x150During the summer months, children get a break from school and and are able to the enjoy the outdoors, swimming, sports, summer camp, and other activities.  With these activities, there are risks. Children, especially toddlers and infants, lack basic safety awareness.  Elementary school aged children, pre-teens, and even teens do not always recognize the danger of certain activities and situation.  As such, it is important for adults, caregivers, counselors, teachers, and others responsible for the care and supervision of children to be mindful of the risks for many summer activities.  When a child is injured, the most important thing to do is to get the child out of harm’s way and then address the medical needs of a child.  When a child is injured due to the negligence of others, there may be a legal remedy and right to compensation for the injured child.  While the pursuit of justice and the enforcement of legal rights are important concepts, it is also important to exercise due care and supervision to begin with so that injuries are avoided. With summer activities, the safety of the child is paramount to other concerns and issues.

In the summer, children will often go swimming. Because of this, pool safety should be the priority for parents, caregivers, teachers, counselorse, and pool owners. More than 1,000 children each year die from drowning and countless others suffer life-altering injuries. The majority of drowning accidents happen in home swimming pools. Of these drownings, most of these could have been prevented had a gate been installed around the pool. Pool gates should be at least four feet tall and be out of the reach of a small child. If your child is swimming, you should be in the pool with them, or supervising from a close distance. Supervision should involve having your eyes on the phone and the child rather than your eyes on a mobile phone, TV, or tablet.

Another potential danger to children this summer is a treehouse. Almost 3,000 children are sent to the hospital every year for treehouse related injuries; anywhere from bumps and bruises to cuts from broken glass and strangulation from rope. Due to the number of risks, a parent should take special care when constructing and allowing a child to play in a treehouse. They should build it low to the ground, no higher than ten feet. The treehouse needs solid barrier walls. And, if children are playing in the treehouse, they should be supervised.

Window-Blinds-150x150

There is a common danger in homes, day care centers, schools, and other facilities.  The common danger is in the form of window blinds.  There are injury risks associated with window blind cords including those related to bruises, cuts, scrapes, and most significantly strangulation.  While it is well known and widely reported that window blind cords represent a significant risk to small children, reports of injuries continue to take place because safety precautions were not taken by the applicable child care provider.

It is estimated that approximately 17,000 children under the age of six years old were admitted to a hospital between the time period of 1990 and 2015 due to window blind related personal injuries.  The same report estimated that one child per month died as a result of window blind cord strangulation during this time period.  Toddlers and small children have poor safety awareness.  As such, what appears to be fun to a toddler can actually pose a significant danger.  The report on window blind injuries gathered together data from emergency rooms.  As such, there are most likely more injuries that took place than were part of this study.

While there have been proposals and recommendations by the United States Product Safety Commission as to standards to make cords covered and / or unreachable by children, these recommendations have not been approved or placed into law as of yet.

Swing-Set-150x150Swing sets are commonly placed, seen, and maintained on playgrounds.  When a child is injured during the use of swings on a playground, there may be liability or responsibilities on the part off the city, school, day care center, and / or owner of the property where the swing set is located.  There should be a distinction made between a person, business, or other entity who / that is the supervisor of children and a person, business, or other entity who / that is the owner of the property where the playground / swing set is located.
Supervision of Children
When a child is under the care and supervision of a school, day care center, summer camp, or other program, it is important that reasonable and necessary care be provided to the child.  Playground equipment and play should be age appropriate. Furthermore, children should be supervised in a reasonably careful manner.  Rough or dangerous play should be stopped immediately.  Swings are a known hazard for those playing around the swings and for those children on the swings.  As such, child care providers and supervisors should be on the look out for dangerous play that may result in personal injuries including injuries related to strangulation during playground use.  If a child while using swings is twisting and turning around, a child care provider should immediately step in as this is not the proper or safe use of the swing set.  If the dangerous play continues, the child care provider should promptly remove the child from the swing set area.

https://www.floridachildinjurylawyer.com/files/2017/08/Day-Care-Center-Hot-Van.001-150x150.jpegIn Florida and other warm weather States, the same tragic story seems to be reported every Spring and Summer.  A child is left by a day care center in a van or bus and dies as a result of hyperthermia.  The name of the child is different but the story seems to be the same.  The child was forgotten in the van or bus because roll call was not properly taken and double checked. These “Hot Car” or “Hot Van” deaths are among the easiest to prevent.  It does not require the investment of millions, thousands, or even hundreds of dollars to prevent.  It only requires a pen, paper, and the attentiveness of one staff member to prevent these deaths from taking place.  While it may be tedious to check and double check when children get on and off of a day care center or school bus – the mundane and tedious work is well worth the fact that the lives of children can be saved with this due diligence.  The fact is the we live in a world of distractions and multiple responsibilities on the part of day care centers and child care centers.  However, the fact that there are distractions and multiple responsibilities are never ever an excuse or defense to leaving a child alone in a hot van, car, or school bus.
A recent death of a 3 year old child in the Orlando area is yet one of many deaths reported when roll call or a head count was not properly completed.  When the temperature outside is in the 80s or 90s, the temperature inside in the vehicle can be 40 to 50 degrees or even hotter inside the vehicle.   In just a few minutes, a small child can go from healthy to dead when left alone and unattended in a hot day care center van, bus, or vehicle.  It was reported that Myles Hill, a 3 year old girl, was left on a day care center vehicle operated by Little Miracles Academy.  Following the death of the child, criminal charges were filed in the form of aggravated manslaughter by the State Attorney’s office.  You can read more about this topic at  3 Year Old Child Dies in Orlando Florida – Day Care Center Hot Van Death. 
When a child dies as a result of the negligence of a day care center, child care provider, summer camp, school, or other third party, the parents can file a wrongful death case against the responsible party, individual, and business.  In Florida, wrongful death cases are governed by both case law and statutes as set forth in Florida Statutes Chapter 768.

Building-Blocks-A-and-D-Day-Care-Center-Injuires-150x150Parents rely on others to provide child care during the work day, nights, and vacations as needed. Most child care providers do an excellent job in supervising the children in a safe and nurturing environment.  There are some child care providers who lack the patience, training, and common sense to provide quality care.  Parents should carefully choose the child care providers.  However, in some instances, parents have limited resources and choices and go with what is available, close, or convenient.  When a child care provider is negligent or careless, a case or claim can be brought against the child care provider.

As a Child Injury Lawyer, there are many factors to consider when evaluating a potential case against a child care provider for injuries to the child.  One important practical factor involves the available liability insurance and resources in place to compensate the injured child.  For instance, let’s day that a child is cared for in a family day care setting with three other children.   The day care center is not licensed and does not carry any liability insurance.  The owner of the day care center essentially lives “paycheck-to-paycheck” and has no assets to speak of.  While a 5 year old was under the care of the facility, he wandered into a closet with some chemicals and cleaners.  He mistakenly knocked over one of the bottles and suffered some rather serious burns to his hands.  Once the day care center found the child, 911 was called and the child was transported to a local emergency room.
Would this be a case of negligence that could be pursued against the owner of the day care center?  The answer to this excellent question is both “Yes” and “No”.  Well, that is a confusing answer.  There certainly would be a “legal” case to pursue against the day care center owner.   The four essential elements of a day care center case could be established:  Duty, Breach of Duty, Causation, and Damages.  The chemicals and cleaners should have been locked up and kept out of the reach of the 5 year old child.  The day care center owner breached the duty to provide a safe environment for the child.  As a result of the breach of duty, the child was injured and suffered damages.  As such, it appears that the four elements of a “legal” case could be established; however, the case would most likely be hampered by the fact that the day care center owner has not assets or money to pay for a settlement or judgment associated with the personal injuries.  As such, from a “practical” standpoint, the case probably would not be pursued by most personal injury attorneys who should perform a “legal” and “practical” evaluation of the potential case.

Toy-Graphics-from-Free-Pik-copy-150x150In the State of Florida, the Department of Children and Families licenses, inspects, and otherwise regulates day care centers and child care facilities.   Inspections, training, staff to child ratios, and other aspects of the facility and child care operation must comfort with the applicable Florida laws and regulations related to child care centers or day care centers.  As a Florida Child Injury Lawyer, I am periodically asked what regulations apply to baby sitting or child care services provided at gyms and fitness centers.  Under Florida law and in particular Section 402.302 (2) – Definition – Child Care Facilities, a “child care facility” is defined as center or arrangement to provide care for more than five children in which the facility or center receives a fee or grant for payment for providing child care.
While one may think that any commercial establishment that provides care or supervision of children should be subject to regulations, licensure, and child care training and courses.  Unfortunately, gyms, fitness centers, and similar facilities that provide some form of child care or babysitting do not qualify as “child care centers” and as such do not require licensure, regulation, or oversight.  It is a bit frightening to conceptualize that babysitting and child care centers in gyms and fitness centers are not subject to the same rules as day care centers and child care centers that receive payment for these particular services.
Since licensure for a day care center is not required for child care as part of a gym or fitness facility, does this mean that the gym or fitness center avoids liability or responsibility when there is an injury to a child?  The answer to this question is “Absolutely Not.”  A gym or fitness center can be help liable if the gym or fitness center is determined to be negligent in fulfilling it duties sand responsibilities to provide a reasonably safe environment for children under the care of the business establishment.  To prove up a case, there must be evidence as to four elements of the case:

https://www.floridachildinjurylawyer.com/files/2017/07/Red-Vehicle.001-150x150.jpegIn the State of Florida, it is a crime to leave a child unattended in a vehicle that is turned off.  Pursuant to Section 316.6135, Florida Statutes, it is a misdemeanor to leave a child unattended in a vehicle for more than 15 minutes.  It is a felony if the child suffers significant bodily harm, permanent injury, or disfigurement as a result of being left unattended in the vehicle.  It is also a misdemeanor leaving a child unattended in a vehicle that is still running if the health of the child is put at risk OR the child appears to be in distress. 

The statute as it currently reads is a bit troublesome in that a child can suffer serious personal injuries or even death by being left in a hot car or day care center van in less than 15 minutes.  Some lawmakers in the State of Florida are pushing for changes to this legislation / Florida law to better protect children and to serve as a reminder to parents, guardians, caregivers, and day care centers to stop putting children at risk by leaving children in a vehicle.  

David Wolf – Personal Injury Attorney – is based in Jacksonville, Florida and handles child injury, automobile accident, day care center, and related cases throughout the State of Florida.  He is the author of 11 books including the book titled 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. You can get these books for free by visiting the Personal Injury Book Section of the Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A. Law Firm Website.