In the State of Florida, day care centers are licensed, inspected, and regulated by the Florida Department of Children and Families. The Florida Administrative Code sets forth some of the duties and responsibilites of a day care center including those related to nap time and sleep time. Rule 65C-22.001 (5) (a) (b) Supervision- General Information – Florida Administrative Code provides the following Child Care Standards:
(a) Direct supervision means actively watching and directing children’s activities within the same room or designated outdoor play area, and responding to the needs of each child. Child care personnel at a facility must be assigned to provide direct supervision to a specific group of children, and be present with that group of children at all times. When caring for school-age children, child care personnel shall remain responsible for the supervision of the children in care, shall be capable of responding to emergencies, and are accountable for children at all times, including when children are separated from their groups.
(b) During nap time, supervision requires that staff be in close proximity, within sight and hearing of all the children. All other staff required to meet the staff-to-child ratio shall be within the same building on the same floor, and must be readily accessible and available to be summoned to ensure the safety of the children. Nap time supervision, as described in this section, does not include supervision of children up to 24 months of age, who must be directly supervised at all times.
Take a look at the bolded and underlined language. For children up to 24 months of age, direct supervision (not supervision within a close proximity) is required during nap time and sleep time. This means actively watching the children under the age of 24 months who are sleeping or napping. Florida law regards day care centers subject to these standards to provide for this level of supervision. What are the standards in place? Why are children up to 24 months essentially catergorized differently than older children during nap time – sleep time? One of the main reasons for these regulations involves the risk hazards to children during sleep time which includes suffocation, strangulation, and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
Let’s take a look at a fact scenario to evaluate if the day care center is complying with the above standard. A day care provider puts a child 4 months of age in a sleeping area. Then, the day care provider attends to other children in another room but within hearing distance of the child. Does this comply with the above standard? The answer is NO. The day care provider left the room even though she was within hearing distance. The day care provider still left the room and did not comply with the above standard which requires direct supervision and does not mean close proximate supervision for children of this age group.
Based on the above scenario and standard, the use of a baby monitor would also be in violation of the Florida Administrative Code. A baby monitor is not the same thing as Direct Supervision which requires the day care provider to be in the same room. Day care centers providers should understand the importance and purpose of this regulation. Unfortunately, some day care providers ignore these regulations and then attempt to multi-task while a child under the age of 24 months is sleeping. Unfortunately, this puts the childrden at risk. If a child has a medical or breathing issue during sleep or nap periods, time of the essence in getting the child re-positioned and / or CPR and / or emergency medical care. Tragically, some children have died in Florida Day Care Centers when this regulation has been ignored. This is especially troubling when pillows and other soft objects were left near the child or worse purposely put in the crib or the sleeping area with the child.
The book titled – Florida Day Care Center Injuries – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – Building Blocks of Knowledge for Parents – has chapters on the following topics:
Florida Day Care Center Negligence
General Laws and Regulations
Outdoor Equipment and Playgrounds
Supervision of Children
Discipline and Punishment of Children
Fire Drills and Emergency Procedures
You can get this book for free at Florida Day Care Center Injuries.