How Children Are Harmed in Texas Daycare Centers
Children are active and unpredictable. No one ever said that caring for young children was easy, but when you run a business devoted to the care of children, you had better make sure you have taken every possible measure to ensure the safety of your children.
Providing high-quality childcare services is also not cheap, but it is often cost-cutting actions that lead to the neglect and injury of our littlest loved ones. Children in daycare can suffer a variety of injuries and illnesses when they are in an unsafe environment.
Some of the causes of daycare injuries include the following:
- Inadequate staffing. Texas law limits the number of children a daycare worker may supervise. This ratio changes as children get older and become more able to care for themselves. For example, daycare workers may not supervise more than four babies aged 0–11 months but may be in charge of 15 3-year-olds and 26 6-year-olds. Even if a daycare center is in compliance with these requirements on paper, it doesn’t mean that at any given moment, workers are not supervising more children than they legally should. During developmental stages, children can be difficult to handle. Inadequate staffing and overwhelmed caretakers can lead to negligent behavior that affects your children for the worse.
- Unqualified workers. All daycare workers in Texas must pass a background check and meet minimum requirements, including having a high school diploma and completing eight hours of pre-service training. If a child is injured while in the care of a childcare worker who does not meet these qualifications, the daycare center can be held liable for knowingly endangering your child.
- Unsafe facilities. The state of Texas has an extensive list of required safety practices for daycare centers covering everything from furniture and equipment to handwashing and severe weather. When a child is injured by an unsecured bookcase or broken playground structure, the daycare center can be held liable. It is the center’s responsibility to conduct regular safety inspections and to correct any violations that could harm a child. Should the staff not be able to control a disruptive situation, unsafe environments become real possibilities.
- Criminal acts. When a child is purposely hurt by a childcare provider, that individual may face criminal charges, and the daycare center—as his or her employer—may also be held responsible. Even if an employee has passed a background check or if he or she physically or sexually abuses a child, both the employee and employer can be held accountable.
Getting a call in the middle of the day from your child’s daycare center informing you that your child has been injured—or worse—is a parent’s worst fear. However, discovering bruises or broken bones on your own—or hearing about abuse or neglect from a verbal child—is even worse. In these cases, the daycare center is either ignoring an incident and hoping it goes away or is unaware that anything even happened to the child. In both instances, the caregivers should be held accountable.
What Might Cause Physical Injuries to Children in Daycare?
- Burns - Burns can happen for a number of reasons, but most commonly we see young children being burned by bottle warmers. Bottle warmer burns can be severe, even leading to second or third-degree burns.
- Broken Bones/Dislocated Joints - Children are small and often very fragile. They can get hurt easily, by jumping from a high surface, like playground equipment. In some cases, daycare workers are violent and rough with children and pull them by the arm, causing dislocation.
- Brain Injury - Brain injuries can be caused by a number of things. Trauma to the head can cause a brain injury; but also, things like suffocation, and overheating can also cause long-term damage to the brain.
- Heatstroke - kids are likely to heat up faster than adults; and, since they're so young, they may not know when it's time to stop playing and drink some water. Additionally, some negligent caregivers forget kids in hot busses or vans. This can lead to organ failure, severe brain damage, or even death.
- Suffocation - suffocation can happen when something is tied around kids' necks, or they may choke on food that wasn't cut properly. Young babies who have not fully adapted to certain sleeping styles may suffocate when put in the wrong position to sleep. Additionally, swaddling a child at an improper age can also cause suffocation.
- Poisoning - everyday products can become dangerous very quickly. Daycare centers are supposed to keep their facilities child-proofed, with no access to potentially toxic chemicals, like cleaning products, soap, washing machine detergent, and more.
Children's Emotional and Psychological Reactions to Abuse in Daycare
Though it isn't always obvious, children sometimes show signs of being abused through psychological and emotional actions. Some examples of this are:
- Regressive behavior - in these cases, your child may show signs of regression; taking steps backward in their psychological and emotional development. An example of this might be bedwetting after they have already been potty trained.
- Separation anxiety - if a child feels the need to constantly be around a parent or someone they trust, it could be a sign that they are being abused by a caregiver.
- Excessive crying - it is normal for children to sometimes cry, but sometimes, children who were abused may cry more than usual. It's important to constantly watch your child's behavior and see if there are any noticeable changes.
- Fear of unknown adults - children can sometimes be shy around new people, but if your child was previously social and is suddenly showing fear in meeting adults, it may be a sign of abuse.
Damages You Might Be Able to Claim
These are just some of the items you may be able to include in your claim if your child was severely injured by their daycare.
- Medical treatment - covers the cost of medical treatment for your child after they sustained an injury. Examples of medical treatment would be ER visits, physical therapy, follow-up doctors' appointments, and more.
- Loss of income - this applies to the parents or guardians if they had to take an extensive amount of time off of work to care for their child.
- Disfigurement - if your child has permanent scarring or loses a limb as a result of a daycare injury, they likely have a claim to disfigurement restitution.
- Loss of enjoyment of life - this could be caused by an injury that hinders your child's ability to do things that they would've otherwise been able to do is something that is important to include on your claim against the daycare.
- Loss of earning capacity - this damage would apply to the child after a severe injury has altered their future abilities to work and provide for themselves as an adult. An example of this is when a child loses a hand and will likely require special training to enter a specific career that can accommodate their disability.
How Long Do I Have to Make a Claim?
As a parent or guardian, in order to make a legal claim against the daycare, you must do it within two years of the incident. Texas has a statute of limitations, which means the claim will only be valid for a certain amount of time. It's best to contact a lawyer as soon as possible, so the claim is filed well before the deadline.
How to Report Daycare Abuse, Injuries, or Neglect in Your State
If you suspect that your child has been abused, injured, or neglected while in daycare, it's important to report it to the proper authorities. We have compiled information on where and how to report daycare abuse incidents in your state.
The Button Law Firm Stands Up for Children in Texas
If your child was injured in a private daycare or after-school care center in Texas, contact the experienced daycare injury legal team at the Button Law Firm. We represent children from all over Texas, including but not limited to West Texas, Houston, and Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW). We are dedicated to protecting children from harm, and we will make sure the daycare center and childcare worker responsible for your child’s injury are held accountable – as we have helped guide many parents and families within Midland, Houston, Dallas, and the surrounding areas.
Read One Client's Experience Following Injuries Caused By Daycare Negligence and Abuse
Words truly can not express my love and gratitude for this firm and Russell's team. The communication was consistent, kind and honest throughout the entire process. Russell and his team went above and beyond for my son and our family. The circumstances surrounding our case are heavy and emotionally painful but this team of professionals handled each detail with compassion, knowledge, experience and a beast-mode mentality that ultimately brought us closure and set my son up for a successful start into adulthood. I am more than thankful and HIGHLY recommend The Button Law Firm.
Written by: Tonia Jimenez
The Button Law Firm
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