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Is a Day Care Center Safe? What is the Quality of the Education? Rights of Injured Children

By  Andrew Baker, Attorney and David Wolf, Attorney
Building Blocks Glossy - Q - Day Care CenterIn Ohio and other states, parents rely on day care centers to supervise their children during the busy work day.  For many parents, there is no choice but to use the services of a day care center.  It is certainly a challenge to provide the support of the family while paying for day care. Ideally, a child is placed in and cared for in a day care center that provides a safe, clean, and educational environment for the children.  Unfortunately, for far too many children, many day care centers are actually unsafe, unclean, and provide little in the way of education to the children enrolled in the child care program.   One would think that the State entity in charge of licensing and inspecting day care centers would evaluate all aspects of the day care center including the cleanliness, safety, and educational value of the facility.
It has been recently reported that only a few of the 7,200 publicly funded day care centers in Ohio actually have the state’s highest education standards.   It is estimated that only 20 % of these day care programs are enrolled in a program that actually rates the educational quality of the day care program.   The staffing standards of a Ohio day care center are quite minimal in nature.  A child care provider needs only have a high school diploma to work in a licensed day care center.  There are no additional requirements of higher education and specialized training in early childhood education.  As such, the training of child care providers of many day care centers do not even attempt to compare to the very few facilities that have a 5 star rating.  You can read more about these issues at Ohio Rates Few Day Care Centers for Educational Quality. 
What if a child is injured in a day care center?  What are the rights of the injured child?  Well, let’s first discuss what makes for a case and what does not.  Just because a child suffers an injury in a day care center does not mean that a case or claim can be pursued on behalf of the injured child.  Let’s face it, children from time to time get hurt even at their homes while engaged in ordinary every day activities.  A day care center is not an absolute insurer for the safety of children under their care. In other words, a day care center is not required to “guarantee” that the child will be injury free during the time of enrollment.   However, if the day care center and its staff caused or contributed to causing the injuries at issue – then a case or claim can be pursued  Let’s discuss an example.   Let’s say that a child is playing in the classroom.  The child is 3 years old.  The teacher left a jar full of coins on a table within the reach of at the children.  The child picked up a quarter and accidentally swallows the quarter.  The child is rushed to the hospital and a procedure is required to remove the quarter. There are follow up visits with the pediatrician.   This particular incident could have been easily avoided if the day care center kept the jar of coins out of the reach of the children.  It is foreseeable that a 3 year old will play with any objects within reach including coins. It is also common for children especially infants and toddlers to put objects in their mouth.  As such, this particular incident was both foreseeable and preventable.  A case can be pursued based on this fact pattern; however, the value of the case will be based not the resulting harm caused to the child.  This particular case would be evaluated differently than a case in which a child fractures his leg and requires two surgeries and a year of rehabilitation. 
The book titled – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – has chapters on Day Care Center Injuries, Sports Injuries, School Injuries, Playground Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.