Everyone involved in a daycare situation has a personal stake in its day-to-day operations, including the owner/operator whose livelihood depends on things running smoothly; parents who entrust caregivers with their most precious assets; and vulnerable youngsters who need safe and healthy environments.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services has identified five daycare licensing violations that occur with surprising frequency, along with ways to prevent precarious situations with potentially grave consequences. Daycare providers can avoid license revocation and suspension by avoiding these common violations:
• Supervision: Numerous reports of unsupervised children make their way to official agencies, from a lack of oversight on playgrounds and field trips, to children leaving with unauthorized individuals. Prevent these issues with thorough staff training and frequent head counts. Have a sign-out sheet near each door, and never let a child leave without a verified adult signature.
• Allergies: A simple meal with standard ingredients can be lethal to a child with food allergies. Have parents sign a declaration of known allergies, check all ingredients in meal plans, and have alternative options available. Train staff in handling allergic reactions, and have an EpiPen or other prescribed medications on hand.
• Delayed Treatment: In case of an accident, injury or illness, a delay in first aid or emergency intervention can subject a child to danger and expose the daycare business to charges of liability and/or neglect. In addition to obtaining legally required training and supplies, hire a qualified health professional to devise and implement a personalized emergency, including written policies and procedures.
• Rough Handling: One family’s idea of acceptable discipline can be quite different from another’s, leaving daycare providers vulnerable to accusations of excessive physical handling. Avoid physical punishment, and have clear procedures for handling disruptive or potentially harmful behavior. Work out disciplinary plans, in writing, with each parent.
• Burns and Sunburns: The Division of Licensing reports receiving complaints about burns from food preparation areas, bottle warmers, excessive sun exposure and even from tap water. Keep tap water to a maximum 120 degrees Fahrenheit; place bottle warmers in permanent, discreet locations; and provide sunscreen, shade and liquids when playing outdoors.
If you are a daycare provider or daycare facility facing licensing action, it is critical that you take action immediately. Talk to a lawyer about your options.