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Is your child safe at day care?

Your decision to find a day care provider for your children was likely a very personal one. If you struggled over the choice, you are in good company. However, you may have known from the beginning that your children would go to day care, and maybe you even had one picked out months before your child was born.

Choosing a day care facility is often painstaking since there are many factors to consider. Certainly, you want a bright, clean, safe environment for your child, age-appropriate activities, and a caring and attentive staff. Finding those qualities within your budget is a bonus. However, you may be concerned with recent findings by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services after they inspected numerous day care centers across the country.

Dangers lurking in day care facilities

The report followed an inspection of 227 establishments that receive federal subsidies. Such facilities provide the necessary child care for about 1.5 million children across the country. The inspectors found that 96 percent of the day care centers that auditors inspected had violations of one or more state regulations governing the health and safety of commercial and in-home day care providers. Some of the violations may shock you, including:

  • Animal waste in outdoor play areas
  • Alcohol in areas accessible to children
  • Rusty nails protruding from play area fences
  • Restrooms filthy with mold and dirt
  • Cleaning products, chemicals and dangerous tools within reach of children

Inspectors were most alarmed by the presence of unregistered people working or living in the day care facility. These people had not undergone required criminal background checks to ensure they presented no danger to the children in the day care. In the 227 facilities the inspectors visited, they saw 186 people who were not approved to be within close proximity of the children. Some were employees of the day care, and others lived in or visited the homes with established day care facilities in them.

You can take steps to protect your child

If you are looking for a day care provider for your child, HHS inspectors suggest you make frequent visits to the facilities you are considering. HHS inspectors have limited resources to investigate day care facilities, and that leaves you with the responsibility for carefully weighing your options. Dropping in at different times, checking with Georgia day care regulators and searching for complaints online are a few ways to preview the day care before you trust the facility with your child.

In the event that your child suffers an injury that you believe is the result of the negligence or carelessness of the day care staff, you have every right to seek legal counsel for information about the best options for pursuing justice.

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