For many families, daycare is a fact of life. With two parents working in the majority of American households, finding quality childcare is a challenge shared by many of us. Approximately two-thirds of mothers with young children must leave home to work, leaving their kids to be cared for by someone outside of the immediate family—that’s more than 8 million kids, or roughly 40 percent of all children under five. Sadly, many daycare providers fail to deliver quality care, and some are downright dangerous. A study by the National Institute of Child Health Development found that most daycare operations could only be considered poor to fair, with only one in ten providing good quality childcare. Only a third of the children in daycare are in facilities that meet the preferred ratio of one caregiver got every three children between the ages of six months and a year-and a half.
As a result, neglect and abuse of children are not uncommon.
A daycare facility, whether a center or a daycare home, owes a duty of care to the children it cares for and their families. If that duty is breached, they can be held liable in a civil court action for any damages to the child and family. If your child has suffered from neglect or abuse in a daycare setting, contact the Austin, Texas injury attorney team at the firm of Briggle & Polan, PLLC. We believe in justice for everyone, but especially for young children who are so vulnerable.
Types of Abuse Occurring in Texas Daycare Centers and Homes
Maltreatment of children in daycare can take many forms, including:
- Physical abuse ( spanking, shoving, shaking, pinching, hair-pulling, scratching, and more)
- Sexual abuse
- Emotional abuse (name-calling, humiliation, shaming, etc.)
- Failure to supervise
Heatstroke Deaths in Daycare Vehicles
Children in Texas, a southern state with a hot climate in parts of the year, are especially vulnerable to heatstroke if they are forgotten and left in a closed vehicle, and deaths have occurred, some in daycare vehicles. Between 1998 and 2015, 661 children died nationwide of hyperthermia after being left in hot vehicles, some belonging to daycare centers, an average of 37 children per year. Texas leads the nation in the total number of child hot car deaths. At least 96 children died in Texas from vehicular heatstroke since 1998. When a heatstroke death occurs in a daycare vehicle, as it sometimes does, it falls under the category of neglect.
These cases are tragic, and no amount of money can adequately compensate for the loss of a child; but when children die or suffer injuries in daycare, it is important to hold the responsible party liable, both criminally and civilly. Many families find that doing so helps them to achieve closure in the face of these unspeakable tragedies.
Recognizing Daycare Abuse
Children often suffer minor bruises and scrapes in the course of normal play, and these do not necessarily indicate that abuse or neglect has occurred. However, the caregiver or director of the center should be able to explain what caused these injuries. If you ask and get an evasive answer, it is a red flag. Another red flag is when a center discourages or does not allow parents to drop in unannounced.
Take a photo of any significant injury you notice and discuss it with the person in charge. If the injury to the child is more serious and requires medical treatment, the center is required by law to file a report with the Child Care licensing. Ask for a copy of the report. If you do not receive it, make a report yourself.
Watch for Warning Signs of Abuse
Sometimes the signs of daycare abuse are not so obvious, especially in cases of sexual abuse. While not common, sexual abuse can be devastating to children and their families and will often have life-long repercussions. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children lists warning signs that might indicate abuse:
- Behavior changes or severe mood swings
- Uncharacteristic aggression or rebelliousness
- Bed-wetting, nightmares, and other sleep disturbances
- Acting out of sexual activity or showing an interest in sexual matters that is not age-appropriate.
- Behavioral regression
- Any new behavior problems
- Wetting, soiling, or any regression in toilet training.
- Fear of going to the daycare center or of certain people or areas of the center
Help is Available from our Austin Daycare Injury lawyers
It may is not possible for most families to avoid the necessity of putting their young children in daycare, but every parent should be diligent and alert to possible problems. If you believe your child has been neglected, injured, or abused in a daycare setting, call the Austin, Texas, law offices of Briggle & Polan, PLLC, to arrange a consultation. If our investigation shows that your concern is valid, our experienced attorneys will guide you through the legal process and pursue an award of money for your child. Together we can reduce daycare abuse and improve the quality of child care in Texas by holding negligent and unscrupulous daycare providers responsible for the harm they’ve caused innocent children. Don’t wait. Protect your child and others by calling today. The consultation is free. 512-472-1926