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What are the Risks and Dangers of Unlicensed Day Care Centers in Louisiana and Other States?

By  David Wolf, Attorney

Building Blocks LThe recent death of a young child in the Louisiana unlicensed day care center sparked a debate about which day care centers should be regulated.  Under Louisiana’s current system, a day care center which cares for less than seven children exclusive of family members of the day care center operator is not required to obtain a license. Because of this, smaller day care centers are operating under the radar and oversight of state and local regulations are still operating  legally. When a day care center is not licensed as required OR not required to be licensed by the state, it is common to see unqualified staff members hired, facilities that are disrepair, and supervision that falls to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the children enrolled in the day care program.

Just because the day care center lacks a  license does not mean  at the daycare center is a dangerous place; however,some governmental oversight can go along way to improving conditions for children who are put at risks by day care centers that cut corners and put profits at a much higher priority than child care / safety.   Another point to make is the fact that many unlicensed facilities lack liability insurance.  If a facility is not going to take the time, effort, and funds to get licensed, the day care center probably will not spend money to have liability insurance in place.
Let’s discuss an example to illustrate this problem. A child is being cared for at a day care center.  The child wanders out of the door, out of the yard, runs into traffic, and is struck by a vehicle in a hit and run accident.   The child suffers serious injuries in the form of a broken / fractured leg and a broken / fractured arm.  Do the parents of the injured child have a legal case to pursue against the day care center?  The simple answer to this question is “Yes”.  The parents have a legal case against the day care center for negligence and carelessness; however, this particular case may not get too far if the day care center owner lacks any significant assets and IF the day care center owner lacks liability insurance.   There is a difference between a “strong legal case” and a “strong legal case” in which a settlement or judgment can be collected.   Certainly, the day care center owner could be sued for negligence. The case would be set for and taken through trial.   There could be a victory in the form of a judgment.  However, collecting upon this judgment is quite a different challenge or task.
With respect to the tragic death of 22 month old Angel Green, there is a good chance that there is no liability insurance but anything is possible.  The day care center was not licensed.  It was reported that Angel Green lost her life on a hot summer day in June 2015 when she was left unattended in a sweltering day care center van in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  You can read more about this story and the debate and issues with unlicensed day care centers in  Louisiana at Day Care Center Death Puts Spotlight on Unlicensed Facilities in Louisiana. 
The book – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – has chapters on Day Care Center Injuries, School Injuries, Playground Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.