Daycare is essential for working parents, and it’s tough to find in many parts of Ohio right now. According to a report issued by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) in September, 76% of Ohio child care centers are experiencing staff shortages. The impact of these shortages has been a reduction in available child care.
Some reported impacts include:
- 44% of programs affected by staffing problems are providing care for fewer children;
- 40% have longer waitlists than they did previously;
- 36% have been unable to open some classrooms;
- 19% have reduced their hours of operation.
Due to these limitations, average enrollment is at about 66% of licensed capacity.
This shortage presents a special challenge for Ohio parents, who need child care to earn a living and support their families, but still need to ensure quality care and the safety of their children. Even in the best of times, even with more options and fully staffed centers, daycare injuries sometimes happen.
Who is Responsible for a Daycare Injury?
A daycare provider has a responsibility to maintain the premises and provide care in a manner that is safe for the children it serves. While there is no 100% foolproof way to avoid injuries, a licensed daycare center–even an in-home provider–is held to a high standard. Some very small in-home child care providers are permitted to operate without a license, but they can still be held responsible for inadequate supervision or unsafe conditions.
Some circumstances in which a child care provider may be liable for injury to a child include:
Some examples include improperly secured fixtures or furnishings that may fall if a child pulls on or attempts to climb them, unsafe playground equipment or surfaces under such equipment, failure to secure electrical outlets, and other hazards.
Other unsafe premises issues may include slippery or uneven walking surfaces, failure to install and maintain required safety equipment such as smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, and unsecured opportunities for a child to slip outside.
Inappropriate Toys and Supplies
Age appropriateness of toys is a significant safety issue, particularly for very young children who are susceptible to choking hazards and other accidental injuries. It’s the child care center’s responsibility to make sure everything that is in use by and accessible to children is safe for their age and circumstances.
This includes maintaining control to ensure that inappropriate toys don’t stray from one classroom or area to one serving younger children.
Closely supervising multiple young children is a challenge, even when it’s your sole focus. That’s why Ohio daycare licensing requirements included a maximum number of children per staff member.
The ratio varies a bit depending on the age of the children, with fewer students per staff member permitted for younger children and larger groups or classes allowed for older children.
Inadequate Training or Procedures
Adequate staffing is key, but it’s not enough. That staff must be vetted and trained to ensure that they know how to safely supervise and care for children, and how to handle problem situations that may arise.
Staff members at licensed facilities–including licensed in-home providers–are subject to mandatory background checks.
Ohio Child Care Providers are Required to Notify Parents of Injuries
In Ohio, daycare centers are required to complete an incident/injury report after certain events, and to provide it to parents or other caretakers responsible for picking up children the same day the incident or injury occurs. But parents shouldn’t rely entirely on self-reporting. News5 Cleveland reported that in 2019 alone, there were 244 unreported serious incidents at Cuyahoga County daycare centers.
Assessing the child care center before choosing is just the first step toward ensuring that your kids are safe in daycare. When you drop off and pick up children, survey the environment for any conditions that may appear unsafe, and watch how staff members interact with the children. If your child has bruises or other signs of injury or is acting unusually, ask questions.
If you have any doubt about the seriousness of the injury, consult your child’s doctor or a walk-in facility right away. And if your child has been seriously injured, educate yourself about daycare center liability and how you may be able to secure compensation for damages such as:
- Medical expenses;
- Lost work time caring for your child;
- Pain and suffering.
The simplest, most reliable way to gather that information is to talk with an experienced Ohio child injury lawyer. The attorneys at Plevin & Gallucci have been helping injury victims and their families for decades. We offer free consultations to ensure that you have the information you need to make the right decision for your family. To get started, just call 855-4PLEVIN or fill out the contact form on this site.