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What are the Duties and Responsibilities of a Day Care Center as to Supervision? Risks of Drowning

By  David Wolf, Attorney and Samantha Vloedman, Law Clerk

Published by Child Injury Lawyer Blog

Building Blocks LIn Illinois and other States, parents rely upon day care centers to provide a safe, nurturing environment for their children during the busy work day. For most children on most days, a day care center provides proper supervision to keep the children safe and out of danger. Unfortunately, there are days (far too many days) when a child is injured while under the so called watch of a day care center.

A three year-old under the supervision of an Illinois day care center drowned during a day trip to a recreation and wellness center. The young boy wandered away from the group. It took approximately fifteen minutes before the day care providers realized that the young boy was missing and then another fifteen minutes to find him unconscious in the river. The young boy was pronounced dead at the hospital about an hour after the police were notified of his disappearance.

Licensed day care centers have guidelines set in place in an attempt to keep children safe. One such guideline is the ratio of adults to children. The ratio is determined by the age and needs of the children. The younger the child, the lower the ratio of adults to children. The ratio of adults to children only provides a minimum physical presence of adults to provide supervision to the children.  The satisfaction or compliance with the ratio does not necessarily equate with the provision of attentive supervision.  Far too often, adults are distracted by cell phones, tablets, or other circumstances. Tending to children requires undivided attention and proper training by day care providers.

Children are curious and are not aware of what dangers lie in front of them. A dangerous situation will catch a child’s eye and the child will wander towards the danger to investigate it further. Examples of dangerous situations include attractive nuisances in the form of pools, lakes, and other bodies of water. Children are mesmerized by the rippling and shiny water. The idea of splashing in the water, like splashing in the bathtub at home, is all too tempting to a young child. In the blink of an eye, without careful and attentive supervision of an adult, a child can easily get too close to the edge of the water and fall in.

A quick newsfeed check or text about who will pick up the dry cleaning can end in disaster. The number one priority of day care centers should be the safety of the children in the care of the center. This means putting off checking email, texts, and other distractions. Continuous attention is a must when caring for young children. Day care providers should always know exactly where all of the children they are responsible for are and never have a child unaccounted for, for any length of time.

A good resource for a parent dealing with the aftermath of an injury caused by the negligence of a day care center or other entity is the book – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know. This book has chapters on Day Care Center Injuries, School Injuries, Playground Injuries, Water Park and Aquatic Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.