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Negligent Staffing Creates Liability For Organizations That Care For Children

Five families sued Children's Learning Adventure Childcare Center in north Texas because an employee hit three- and four-year-olds with a wooden spoon.

The same teacher - assigned to a group of 15 toddlers - was accused of using fear and intimidation tactics when the toddlers misbehaved. The director and other employees of the daycare center reported hearing the teacher's screams from other areas of the daycare center and did nothing about it.

In March 2022, one four-year-old told his mother about the teacher's behavior. An investigation revealed the teacher has no childcare certification or formal training from the facility for her job to be a single caregiver for a large group of toddlers.

As a result, the woman became overwhelmed and sought help, but received none. The woman would reach out to religious advisers and help hotlines during her lunch break at the daycare. The Button Law Firm "Five North Texas Families Sue Daycare Center After Unqualified Teacher Hit and Threatened Kids" https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/five-north-texas-families-sue-daycare-center-after-unqualified-teacher-hit-and-threatened-kids-301905816.html (Aug. 21, 2023).

Commentary and Checklist

It is not known whether 15 toddlers in one room with one caregiver violates any state law. In general, a ratio of one adult for every four toddlers is reasonable, depending on the age of the children. Younger children and children with disabilities may require more adult supervision.

The employer faces liability for negligent staffing and supervision. The employer may also lose its license or be fined.

What should facilities that care for children have in place to lower the risk of negligence claims?

·      Video surveillance

·      Written policies and procedures for hiring and staffing

·      Written policies and procedures for appropriate discipline

·      Regular training on the policies and procedures

·      Regular training on child sexual abuse prevention

·      Reporting mechanisms for any type of workplace policy violation (ex. safety, discrimination, harassment)

·      Safe hiring procedures like background checks

 

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