Daycare centers often experience understaffing because it can be challenging to find skilled, experienced workers. Low pay and budget concerns often lead to high turnover among staff.
Understaffing can lead to children becoming injured because of overworked, neglectful caregivers.
When Daycares Are Liable for Injuries Related to Understaffing
Kids who are of daycare age are typically very active, requiring constant supervision. Texas law has established ratio guidelines for daycare centers that indicate how many children are under the direction of each daycare worker. The maximum number of children per caregiver goes up as the child gets older. For children under 12 months, there can be a maximum of four children per caregiver. For toddlers, the number goes up to nine to 11. As kids enter their elementary school years, the ratios continue to rise as children are able to do more for themselves.
Staff-to-child ratios are crucial for the health, safety, and overall wellbeing of the children at a daycare. Any deviation from these ratios is a violation. If your child is injured because there are not enough skilled workers, you have the right to take legal action against the daycare.
How Understaffing at Daycare Centers Can Put Children at Risk
When there are too many children in a classroom, caregivers cannot properly monitor children. This increases the likelihood of an accident happening—and a child becoming injured. Working in a childcare environment is hard work that requires substantial alertness and energy to focus on myriad unexpected tasks. Daycare workers who are overworked can become tired, overlooking routine tasks that are designed to keep children safe.
Understaffing can be directly harmful to children. Here are some examples:
- Children are not being appropriately supervised on the playground, so a child falls from a piece of playground equipment.
- A child is injured, but there are not enough qualified staff to take care of the injury.
- Broken or defective toys go unnoticed because routines have suffered in light of a staff shortage.
- Cleanliness standards are not upheld, increasing the risk of disease transmission, including colds, flu, gastroenteritis, and other diseases.
- A child wanders from the daycare center because doors are not properly latched or because the staff is not paying attention. This can result in some terrifying minutes searching for the child. It can also result in serious injuries if a child wanders out near traffic or other dangers.
What to Do if Your Child Is Injured as a Result of Understaffing
There are three key steps you should take when your child has been injured at daycare due to understaffing.
- Seek medical treatment for your child. This is especially important if your child is too young to tell you what happened. A medical professional can help identify injuries and possible causes.
- File an incident report with the daycare as soon as possible. Depending on the circumstances and the administrator’s actions, you may also want to find an alternative daycare for your child.
- Contact a daycare injury attorney who can guide you through the process. It’s crucial to pursue these cases because there are children at the daycare who are vulnerable to the same kind of abuse or neglect. A lawsuit can hold the daycare accountable and help put an end to this mistreatment.
If you are looking for a daycare center for your child, we welcome you to download our free guide, 11 Tips to Help Parents Choose a Safe Daycare. If your child is injured because of daycare abuse, neglect, or understaffing, please call us or fill out the contact form on this page to schedule a consultation.