Daycare Abuse and Neglect

Chris Nickels attorney

Clawson and Staubes provides representation to both plaintiffs and defendants in claims involving daycare abuse and neglect. Whether you are a parent whose child has been injured or neglected at a daycare or you are a childcare facility accused of such conduct, we have the experience necessary to handle your case at any level.

Parents place absolute trust in daycare facilities to provide a safe and nurturing environment for the most valued and vulnerable members of our society: our children.  Unfortunately, annual statistics from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services show that there are more than 3,600 instances of abuse and neglect at daycare facilities nationwide each year.

In South Carolina, the S.C. Department of Social Services (DSS) licenses approximately 3,000 child care facilities, while the Division of Early Care and Education is responsible for managing all state and federal child care programs. Once licensed, a child care facility may legally operate in the State, subject to a multitude of regulations, including, but not limited to:

  • Staff to child ratio requirements;
  • Staff qualification, background check, and training requirements;
  • Child discipline requirements;
  • Facility health and safety requirements;
  • Child medical requirements; and
  • Care for sick children.

In 2014, state lawmakers enacted a law permitting licensed inspectors to inspect home daycare centers unannounced to ensure compliance with laws and regulations governing the operations of child care facilities. As a result of the new law, which was enacted following the death of a 3-month-old infant in Greenville County, DSS inspectors have closed over 50 child daycares since 2014.

However, not all violations come to light, and children can become victims of abuse and neglect when childcare service providers fail to follow state law and regulations, fail to observe industry standards of care, fail to hire and train qualified and competent employees, or fail to staff their facilities with an appropriate number of employees.  When these failures occur, physical injuries to a child can result, including:

  • Broken bones or dislocations, internal damage, head injuries, and dental injuries;
  • Wrongful death;
  • Exposure to sexual, explicit, or profane conduct;
  • Choking or suffocation;
  • Poisoning from a toxic substance or plant;
  • Burns from hot surfaces or hot water; and
  • Drowning in various bodies or pools of water.

Mental and emotional injury can also result to the child, the effects of which may linger for years, potentially resulting in a significant claim against the daycare facility. These claims, which arise from a unique area of law, require the assistance of experienced counsel.  Cases are often fact intensive and require attorneys with knowledge of the regulatory framework imposed by the S.C. Department of Social Services on child care service providers and capable of conducting a detailed investigation of the allegations in an effort to evaluate the potential liability.  Furthermore, daycare abuse and neglect claims often require the identification and use of expert testimony to establish the nature and extent of the injuries suffered or likely to be suffered by the child.  Punitive damages may be recoverable if the conduct of the daycare center or its employees was particularly egregious.

Our daycare abuse and neglect attorneys are experienced in representing both plaintiffs and defendants in cases involving allegations of physical injury, wrongful death, choking, suffocation, drowning, poisoning, burns, and sexual abuse. These cases can be complex because of the various laws, statutes, regulations, and administrative procedures that families and childcare facilities must navigate. Thus, it is imperative that you hire an attorney who has the experience necessary to ensure that your claim is handled properly. Our attorneys are equipped to provide you with competent counsel and assist you in navigating what is sure to be a very emotional ordeal for all involved.

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