Trusting your child with someone else is one of the very hardest things most parents will do. In the United States, it can be even harder, because our childcare and daycare systems are hit and miss, at best. More than 8.2 million kids—at least 40 percent of all children under the age of five—routinely spend at least a part of their week in the care of someone other than a parent. And, while some daycare centers are excellent, the overall quality of childcare and daycare institutions across the United States is both scantily monitored as well as wildly uneven.
A 2007 survey done by the National Institute of Child Health Development determined the majority of United States daycare institutions were only “fair” or “poor,” with only ten percent providing what could be considered high-quality care. Despite the recommendation by experts that there should be a ratio of one caregiver for every three infants between the ages of six months and 18 months, this standard is rarely met.
In some states, child care workers are not required to have any training—or are only required to have minimal training. Statistics on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome reveals that while about 9 percent of all reported SIDS deaths “should” (statistically speaking) occur in child care or daycare settings, the actual number is double that.
While fatalities in child care situations are relatively rare, they are, unfortunately, not as rare as they should be. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, following an investigation of Missouri daycare facilities, it was found there were 45 daycare deaths between 2007 and 2010. In the end, when a parent or guardian entrust their child to a daycare center, they believe the caregivers will provide a safe, caring environment. It is also hoped the caregivers will take adequate care to prevent harm from coming to any child in their care. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. For parents, none of this news is even remotely comforting and is likely very alarming.
While children will always receive scuffs and scrapes in a daycare environment—or virtually any environment, these are most often the result of an unavoidable accident, and nothing to file a lawsuit over. If the accident was avoidable, however, and was caused by negligence on the part of the staff, or as a result of a hazard on the premises, then a personal injury or premises liability claim could be the right course of action. When a daycare center fails to exercise due care to prevent foreseeable injuries, or fails to meet safety standards, taking into consideration the age, physical and mental capacity and curious nature of children, then that center could be liable for resulting injuries. There are a number of issues involved in daycare injuries, including the following:
- Lack of supervision—Those in charge at daycare centers must follow a standard of care which is appropriate for the age of the children under supervision as well as the specific circumstances. When an accident occurs, and a subsequent lawsuit is filed, courts will take into consideration the age of the child, the activity engaged in when the injury was sustained, and whether proper supervision could have prevented the accident.
- Lack of properly trained staff—The staff in any daycare center or childcare facility must have at least a certain level of training to be able to identify any potential hazards, then keep the children from being injured by those hazards. In other words, at a minimum, those who work with children should have enough common sense to ensure no dangerous conditions exist for the children.
- Lack of appropriately developed and implemented policies and procedures—Every daycare center or childcare facility must have policies and procedures in place which cover all situations which could occur. Further, those policies and procedures should always be implemented—with no exceptions.
Agencies which practice appropriate supervision of the children in the care, develop and implement good policies and procedures, train and supervise staff and follow up on safety concerns and foreseeable hazards are much less likely to be judged negligent when an accident occurs than agencies which are chronically lacking in one or more of these areas. Additionally, daycare facilities must always include comprehensive background checks for all employees and volunteers, must be aware of child-staff rations, must ensure the facilities are properly secured, must keep up with necessary state licensing requirements and must train staff regarding reporting requirements for child abuse and neglect. Top-notch facilities will also invite outside agencies and professionals to conduct safety-and-risk assessments and to conduct training sessions for employees.
Proving Daycare Liability
If your child was injured or harmed by daycare or childcare negligence, you must be able to show the provider is liable for the resulting injuries. Your attorney will need to prove that the daycare provider violated their obligation to your child, that this violation resulted in injury to your child and that the injury could have reasonably been foresee—thus prevented—by the provider. Evidence of the manner in which the injury occurred, as well as evidence showing the provider, was at fault will also be necessary for a successful claim. Duty of care encompasses the expectations—whether legal or understood—the provider must meet when caring for children.
The court will employ the “prudent daycare principle” to help determine liability. The prudent daycare principle simply asks what a prudent daycare provider would have done in the same situation. If the court finds that a prudent daycare provider would have done something differently, or would have done more to prevent the accident, they will likely find in favor of the plaintiff. In the state of Missouri, the duty for regulating daycare and childcare facilities fall to the Department of Social Services, however, state regulations do require that childcare facilities undergo frequent state inspections. A daycare injury attorney will be able to access these reports, and if previous incidents have occurred, the case may be significantly strengthened. If a waiver was signed at the daycare or childcare facility, the case could be more difficult—but not impossible in the hands of an experienced St. Louis, Missouri daycare injury attorney from the Finney Injury Law.
Getting the Help You Need Following a Daycare Injury
The process of taking legal action after your child has sustained an injury at a daycare or childcare facility can be a long, bumpy road, however, hiring a daycare injury attorney from the Finney Injury Law can greatly increase the chance of a positive outcome. Your child’s daycare center should be a place of safety and comfort, with a staff you trust to take care of your child. If you believe your child’s injuries were the direct result of daycare negligence, you should contact the Finney Injury Law as soon as possible. Our attorneys will comprehensively answer all your questions, clearly explaining your options. Contact an attorney from the Finney Injury Law today.