If you suspect that your child has suffered harm due to the actions of a childcare provider, whether it is physical, sexual, verbal abuse, or neglect, you need a Florida law firm on your side that can help you fight for the justice you and your child rightfully deserve.
Sadly, signs of daycare negligence, abuse, and neglect are not always easy to identify. Parents must know what to look for and take appropriate action if they suspect abuse. Your child’s safety and well-being are what’s most important, and our Florida personal injury lawyers are here to protect them.
What is Negligence in a Childcare Facility?
Daycares, church camps, nurseries, and child organizations are responsible for protecting the children in their care. When they fail, the law allows parents to hold these negligent caregivers accountable. But what is negligence in a daycare or childcare facility?
Negligence in a daycare or childcare facility occurs when the providers or staff fail to meet their duty of care, resulting in harm or injury to the child. Negligence can take many forms, such as:
- Failure to provide proper supervision
- Failure to provide a safe environment
- Failure to hire qualified staff
- Failure to report or investigate suspected abuse
- Abuse and neglect
Signs of Childcare Negligence, Abuse, and Neglect
You trust daycares and childcare centers to look after your children and keep them safe. When they fail to do this, you and your family can face unimaginable pain and suffering. As a parent, there are signs of negligence, neglect, or abuse you should look for. If you see these signs when evaluating a daycare center or in-home caregiver, think twice before hiring them to care for your child.
#1: Not Enough Adult Caregivers or Daycare Staff
Florida has strict rules and laws that set the staff to child ratio for both early care and education centers and family childcare homes in the state. The required adult-to-child ratios for different age groups in an early care and education setting are based on State Statue 402.305 (4).
|Age Range of Children||Ratio of Adults to Children|
|Birth to 1 year||1 adult for every 4 children|
|1 year to under 2 years||1 adult for every 6 children|
|2 years to under 3 years||1 adult for every 11 children|
|3 years to under 4 years||1 adult for every 15 children|
|4 years to under 5 years||1 adult for every 20 children|
|5 years and older||1 adult for every 25 children|
By following these ratios, providers can ensure that children receive the appropriate level of supervision and care to support their development and well-being.
If you notice that your daycare or childcare center does not have the appropriate staff:child ratio, this could signal that your child is not receiving the care they need. In these daycare centers, child negligence and abuse are more likely to occur.
#2 You Observe Choking Hazards
Children under three are at most risk from choking on small objects and in 2017, 184 babies and toddlers died from choking on an object. Childcare centers must use age appropriate toys and pick up all small choking hazards and objects, especially in rooms with small children. This includes paperclips, button batteries, Lego pieces, latex balloons, and push pins.
Large pieces of food can also become a choking hazard, especially in toddlers and preschool children. Hot dogs and grapes should be quartered before letting children eat their lunch. Carrots, candies, and other food items should also get broken up into smaller pieces to prevent choking. Children with special needs are often at a greater risk for choking until they’re much older.
If you see small objects within reach on daycare counters, tables, window sills, or in toys, it is a sign that the childcare center is not taking the necessary precautions to keep your child safe and prevent tragedy. Likewise, if you see large pieces of food being given to children during lunch or snack, it is a major red flag.
#3 Employees Are Not Watching Children Closely
Many child injury cases in daycares and childcare facilities involved negligent supervision. This occurs when there is a breach in the daycare’s duty to properly supervise the children in their care. Children need constant and vigilant supervision, and parents pay daycare centers a lot of money to keep a close eye on their children.
What does negligent supervision look like?
- An employee who is texting on their phones instead of supervising a child on a playground
- A daycare worker who goes on a coffee break instead of monitoring infants in their cribs
- A caregiver who is chatting with their coworkers while on a field trip and fails to keep children close by
- An employee who falls asleep during her shift leaving toddlers unattended
When an accident occurs, your personal injury lawyer must establish that the daycare workers and the childcare facility acted negligently and that this negligent supervision led to your child’s injury. When determining whether your child’s injury was the result of negligent supervision, your Florida injury lawyer will need to consider several factors
- The age and developmental maturity of the child
- The activity involved
- Experience level of the child performing that activity
These factors will help determine if the daycare center’s negligent supervision caused your child’s injuries. After all, the level of supervision required while 3-year-old children swim in a pool is greater than that required during naptime.
#4 You Notice an Unsafe Childcare Environment
Childcare facilities should never be unsafe. Daycare employees and managers must take care of hazards quickly and perform routine safety checks to ensure children are not hurt. However, many childcare facilities fail to perform these routine checks or may not quickly fix hazards. When this occurs, children and infants can get seriously injured.
Some examples of an unsafe childcare environment include:
- Broken toys
- Exposed wiring
- Safety outlet covers are missing
- Safety locks broken or not installed properly
- Hazardous chemicals not stored safely
- Baby gates not installed correctly
- Broken or slippery playground equipment
Leaving cleaning supplies, such as floor cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, laundry detergents, and dish soaps, within the reach of children, including in unlocked cabinets beneath sinks, is a form of neglect that can lead to serious harm. Every year, hundreds of children are injured or killed by coming into contact with or swallowing these chemicals, which can cause long-term injuries and even death. It is crucial to keep these hazardous materials out of the reach of children to prevent such incidents from occurring.
#5 You Suspect That the Staff is Unqualified or Improperly Trained
Unqualified staff often lack the knowledge and skills to identify safety hazards in the daycare environment. This can lead to neglect and abuse, as well as accidents or injuries, such as falls, burns, or choking incidents. In addition, without proper training and experience, daycare staff may not how to prevent the spread of illnesses in the facility. This can spread contagious diseases, such as colds, flu, or COVID-19, among children in the daycare center.
Improperly trained daycare staff also do not know how to react quickly during emergencies. They may not know how to perform CPR when a child stops breathing, or they may fail to take the right actions when a child chokes. Unfortunately, not taking the right steps in an emergency situation can be the difference between life and death.
What Are the Legal Requirements for Staff Qualifications and Training in Florida Daycare Centers?
In Florida, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) oversees licensing and ensures that daycare centers meet the legal requirements for staff qualifications and training.
Some of the key requirements include the following:
- Staff qualifications: All staff members who work directly with children in daycare centers must be at least 18 years old and meet specific educational requirements. For example, lead teachers must have a minimum of a high school diploma or equivalent and 40 clock hours of introductory training in child development and early childhood education.
- Background screenings: All staff members who work directly with children in daycare centers must undergo a Level 2 background screening, which includes fingerprinting and a criminal history check.
- Training requirements: Staff members in daycare centers must complete training in various areas, including child growth and development, health and safety, and child abuse and neglect prevention. This includes training on medication administration, early literacy, safe sleep, shaken baby syndrome, fire extinguisher training, and more.
- Continuing education: Staff members in daycare centers must complete ongoing training and education to maintain their qualifications. For example, childcare personnel must complete at least 10 clock hours of in-service training annually.
When a daycare center or facility fails to meet these requirements, they can – and should – be held accountable when children get hurt.
#6 You Notice Bruises or Marks On Your Child
Children can get hurt in many ways. They can fall down while playing or they can bump into objects when they’re learning to walk. However, if your child comes home with multiple bruises, scratches, or physical marks, it could be a more worrisome sign.
When parents suspect abuse at a daycare, they may notice marks on their child’s body that cannot be easily explained. These marks may include bruises, welts, cuts, scratches, or burns. They may occur in odd places, such as on the upper arm or torso.
In some cases, the child may also exhibit unusual behavior, such as becoming withdrawn, fearful, or anxious. Additionally, the child may express a reluctance or refusal to go back to the daycare or to be left with a specific caregiver. Any of these signs may be cause for concern and should be investigated further to ensure the child’s safety and well-being.
#7 Your Child is Hungry or Thirsty When You Pick Them Up
If your child consistently appears to be in need of food or water, it may be an indication that the daycare provider is not adequately nourishing them throughout the day. This can be a major cause for concern, particularly if your child begins to lose weight or shows signs of dehydration, such as dry mouth or skin, dark urine, and lethargy.
Inadequate nutrition and hydration can harm your child and delay development, particularly during their formative years. Malnutrition can impact their growth and cognitive function, as well as compromise their immune system. If your child’s daycare teachers are not feeding or giving them enough water, it could be child neglect.
If you suspect that your child is not receiving proper nutrition and hydration at daycare, it’s important to address the issue immediately. Speak to the providers about your concerns. If your child suffered harm, contact an attorney and find another daycare provider that can meet your child’s basic needs.
#8 Soiled Diapers and Rashes
If you consistently find your child in a soiled diaper, it may indicate that the daycare providers are neglecting your child. Your child’s hygiene needs should be met throughout the day, including regular diaper changes.
While diaper rashes are common among babies and toddlers, if your child has a long-lasting rash, it may suggest that they are not getting proper diaper changes. Prolonged exposure to urine or feces can cause diaper rashes to worsen, leading to painful and uncomfortable skin irritation. If the rash persists or becomes severe, it can even result in a skin infection.
As a parent, if you pick your child up in a soiled diaper every day or notice a long-lasting diaper rash, you should worry that your daycare center is not caring for your child appropriately. Parents must remain vigilant and ensure that their child’s basic needs are being met to promote their overall health and well-being.
Hiring a Lawyer After Daycare Negligence
If your child gets injured at daycare, it may be necessary to hire a daycare injury lawyer to protect your legal rights and seek compensation. The decision to hire a lawyer will depend on the severity of the injury, the circumstances surrounding the incident, and the actions taken by the daycare provider and/or their insurance company.
An injury lawyer can help you understand your legal options and the potential damages that may be available to you, such as compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages.
Additionally, if the daycare provider denies responsibility or fails to take corrective action after the incident, a lawyer will advocate on behalf of your child’s best interests.
Contact Our Florida Personal Injury Lawyers
You must act immediately if you suspect your child has suffered from negligence, neglect, or abuse at a childcare facility. Florida law protects children who have been harmed while in the care of a childcare provider, but you need the help of an experienced attorney to navigate this process.
If you’re unsure whether you have a case, don’t hesitate to call the Florida personal injury attorneys at Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys PA. Our law firm has years of experience helping families after child neglect, molestation, or abuse.
Remember, time is of the essence in cases of childcare negligence. You can protect your child and hold negligent providers accountable by taking action now. Don’t wait any longer – call our Florida injury law firm today at (305) 694-2676 or fill out our confidential contact form.