In 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:
1 – Duty;
2 – Breach of Duty;
3 – Causation; and
4 – Damages.
Let’s illustrate with an example. Let’s say a 5 year old child is being supervised in a child care area for a gym or fitness center. While in the child care area, the boy climbs up on a gate a few times and jumps from the gate. The staff member does nothing to stop the child from engaging in this dangerous activity. After about 20 minutes of playing around on the gate, the child falls to the ground and breaks his arm. The staff member calls the parent on the mobile phone. The parent had been working out in the gym. Under these facts, it would appear that a case or claim could be established. There was a duty to provide reasonable supervision. There was a breach of duty in allowing the child to play on and jump off the gate. This breach of duty, in turn, caused the child to suffer injuries which are otherwise referred to as damages.
David Wolf is a child injury attorney. Based in Jacksonville, Florida, David Wolf handles personal injury and child injury cases throughout the State of Florida. He is also the author of 11 books focusing on personal injury including the book titled The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.