Tales from our Files: Negligence at Daycare

With increasing frequency, our firm is called upon to represent families whose children have been seriously injured or, in some particularly sad cases, killed, due to negligence at daycare. Our children are our most precious possession. The increasing need for two parent wage earners has created an explosion in the daycare industry. We all want to ensure that our children are placed in the safest, most nurturing environment, but how do we really know for sure? Fortunately, there are several things that you can do to increase your comfort level in this regard.

You’ll want to visit any potential facility, of course, but, when you do, I would urge you to linger awhile. Observe the environment that the children are in and how they are seemingly treated. Make sure the facility appears “child proof” in the various ways that you would seek to guard against accidents in your own home. This would include secure gates at the top of stairs, locks on any gates that lead from the backyard to the roadway, locks on cabinets where household cleaning chemicals might be located and the like. Cleanliness of the facility is also so vitally important. Take the time to meet and really get to know those who work at the facility. Ask frank and honest questions about their child care experience and whether any child has previously been injured on their watch. Ask if they are certified in CPR and/or whether they’ve successfully completed a First Aid class. You’ll want to make sure that any potential facility that you choose maintains liability insurance as, remarkably, there is no law that currently mandates that insurance coverage be in place for those who operate a daycare center. Before committing to a facility, it’s not a bad idea to randomly drop in unannounced to see how things operate when they least expect your visit.

You may also want to request a copy of the Department of Early Education and Care Family Child Care Parent Handbook for each facility that you are considering. Inside you’ll find a host of valuable information concerning each facility. For those with very young children, you should know that the Department of Early Education and Care (which oversees daycare centers), mandates that children who are younger than six months of age at the time of enrollment must be under direct visual supervision at all times, including while napping,

Your vigilance in becoming well informed and intimately involved in your child’s care will minimize the risk of danger when your child is out of your sight.

Dino M. Colucci, Esquire, is a founder of Colucci, Colucci, Marcus & Flavin, P.C., a law firm dedicated to representing victims of neglect. His predominant area of practice is in the area of representing seniors who have been the victims of nursing home negligence. For many years he has lectured and served as an adjunct Professor of Law at Suffolk University Law School. He has also been named as a “Super Lawyer” by his peers as published by Boston Magazine.