Parenting is full of challenges and stressful moments. Perhaps one of the most anxiety-inducing experiences is leaving your child at a day care center for the first time. Putting your trust in someone else is never easy, especially when your child’s well-being is concerned. While most day care centers provide a loving, nurturing place for your child to grow and develop, not all are created equal. How can you find the best day care for your child – and what happens if your child comes home with an injury?

Florida Sets Strict Guidelines for Day Care Facilities

A Bradenton day care became the subject of national news last fall when a mother received a call from a day care worker saying her 18 month old had suffered a bite at the center. Concerned, she rushed to pick up her son at the day care to find that he was not just bitten but was covered in a dozen bites. She rushed him to the local hospital, where the doctors alerted the local authorities.

In these types of situations, it seems natural to wonder how such an incident could even occur. Where were the day care workers? How was a child left unsupervised long enough for these injuries to occur? According to a video recording of the toddler’s room, there was no supervision for more than 20 minutes, which resulted in the little boy’s injuries.

Florida law sets certain guidelines regarding a child’s safety, health, and well-being. When a day care center violates or misrepresents these conditions, its operators may be liable for any injuries that occur. These guidelines include but are not limited to:

  • Health concerns, including access to clean food and water, working utilities, cleanliness, and pest-free environments.
  • Supervision requirements, such as adhering to a certain staff-to-student ration, proper training, and appropriate screening methods for employment.
  • Transportation standards for children when on a field trip.
  • Proper maintenance of the outdoor areas, such as fencing and playground equipment.

In this case, it seems that the mother whose toddler sustained the bites might have grounds for a negligent supervision claim. When a day care’s lack of supervision leads to a child’s injury, the owners may be legally responsible for any damages that result.

How Do I Find the Best Day Care Centers? 

Fortunately, Florida is home to many quality day care centers. Use these tips to find the perfect fit:

  • Ask for references from other parents. See if you can speak with parents in the same classroom or day care center. They are more likely to give you a candid opinion of their experiences compared with staff members.
  • Look for accredited centers. Call the Child Care Awareness Hotline (800-424-2246), which will give you the number of your local child care referral agency. This agency can give you recommendations for centers in your area. See if you can find a center accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) or the National Association of Family Child Care (NAFCC).

Most important, follow your gut. Even if a center seems like the perfect fit for your children, don’t enroll them if something doesn’t feel right. Should your child come home with a day care injury, talk to a doctor right away, then seek advice from a personal injury attorney. A phone call to an attorney may prevent the suffering of other children.