Are Your Children Safe at a Georgia Daycare Center?
It is getting more and more difficult these days for parents in Georgia to find a suitable daycare for their children. This seems astounding given the fact that there are currently about 3000 child care learning centers, 250 group day care homes, 4,500 family day care homes and almost 2,000 informal care providers in the state. The key question that parents should be considering is whether a potential daycare center is licensed. There has been a recent rash of child deaths and abuse associated with unlicensed childcare facilities across the state of Georgia. Parents should do their homework when picking a place to trust with their children.
Due to the current economic downturn, about 600 reputable childcare centers have closed their doors to the public. Other centers have gone underground enabling them to avoid paying operating fees and to charge cut rates to their customers. Unfortunately, when these centers are no longer registered with the state, the state does not conduct inspections or monitor the operation of these businesses on a regular basis. Children left in the care of these types of unlicensed facilities are 1.7 times more likely to die or be seriously injured according to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
When these businesses just "hang out a shingle", there is no monitoring to ensure compliance with safety. There is no oversight conducted to determine if the operators or any of its employees are current in first aid, CPR or insurance. There also are no background checks done to see if anyone has a history of child molestation or any other criminal activity.
Just last week here in Coweta County, a man running an unlicensed day-care facility out of his home was arrested and charged with child molestation. He and his wife were caring for 4-6 children ages 6 to 12. One of the children complained to his parents and the man was promptly arrested.
Steps to Take When Finding a Child Care Center for Your Children
Here are questions that parents should ask:
1. Are they a licensed facility and registered with the state?
2. Can they provide references?
3. Do the owners or anyone employed have a criminal record?
4. Is the owner trained in first aid, CPR, and early childhood education?
5. What activities will the children be engaged in during their time at the facility?
Look for a program for your children that is monitored by Georgia's monitoring agency Bright from the Start. This group is a member of the Child Care Services Division in Georgia. These are their responsibilities:
- They provide support, monitoring, technical assistance and training to licensed child care centers so that they can assure a safe and healthy environment for children.
- They provide information to Georgia parents about childcare programs throughout the state.
- They provide child development and early childhood education information available to parents and providers.
- They investigate any complaints about childcare programs.
- They investigate reports about unlicensed childcare operations.
- The organization provides assistance and information to those wanting to open a child care program.
Awareness on the part of parents is the best defense to prevent abuse or neglect. It also is important to understand the requirements for a "licensed" daycare operation. An unlicensed childcare home in Georgia can legally watch a limit of two children for pay. A licensed operation can watch up to six children for pay with a maximum group size of twelve children. Parents should visit a lot of facilities including showing up unannounced. The best way to protect one’s children is to inspect the premises, do one’s homework and conduct reasonable research. If something does not feel right about a place, then it probably is not right. The choice of a licensed daycare center is the first step in making sure that your children are safe.
At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, our Georgia daycare injury attorneys assist families whose children are seriously injured or killed at daycare facilities. We are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia including, but not limited to, Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural towns in the state. Call us today for your free consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333), or visit us on the web at www.montlick.com. No matter where you are in Georgia or the Southeast, we are just a phone call away. Montlick & Associates: Caring, Dedication, Experience, Results!