When selecting a day care center for a child, there are many options in most communities. A parent can go with a national chain, a local commercial day care center, or an in-home day care center. There are also day care centers that are part of schools, non-profit community centers, and churches. While a day care center license is far from a guarantee that a child will never be harmed, a day care center license does subject the facility to oversight, rules, and regulations. In addition, liability insurance is required as part of many licensing requirements and / or government programs that provide benefits for children enrolled in a day care center. When a child is enrolled in an unlicensed – off the grid day care center, there may be a number of safety risks associated with the day care center.
Licensed day care facilities are held to higher standards than those that are unlicensed. Employees are required to take safety tests and learn CPR, which can be the difference between life and death in emergency situations. Licensed day cares are also subject to regular inspections from health or safety boards, so they are likely to be safer environments for children. Unlicensed day care facilities fall under no such scrutiny. Their buildings could be unsafe or unclean, their food could be unhealthy, and they could avoid immunization and handwashing procedures meant to stop the spread of diseases. Most importantly, the staff at an unlicensed day care center could be inadequately trained, and there could be too few staff members to properly watch over all the children in their care. Licensed day care centers are clearly the safer option, so why are some parents still choosing to bring their children to unlicensed day cares?
Part of the issue is simply ignorance. Popular day care search website Care.com advertises unlicensed day care centers the same as licensed ones, so some parents will unwittingly send their children to one. Prompted by an increase in infant deaths, the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office requested that Care.com “stop deceptive childcare providers” from advertising. Five infants died in unlicensed Tennessee day care centers in 2018, so it only makes sense that the DA would want to put an end to them. Parents looking for day care centers for their children should do research to see if the facility is licensed and safe. They can also report any unlicensed day care center they find.