Protecting Children from Day Care Abuse

Warning Signs of Abuse, Neglect at Child Day Care Centers
Warning Signs of Abuse, Neglect at Child Day Care Centers

Warning Signs of Child Abuse, Neglect at Child Day Care Centers

Placing our children in day care is often the only option for many parents who have no alternative but to trust the welfare of their children to day care providers. While most day care providers are efficient, kind, and trustworthy, there are exceptions and every parent and caregiver should be aware of the warning signs that point to a day care facility that is not appropriately caring for its children.

Children are extremely vulnerable and there are a variety of ways in which to abuse children that include physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, as well as neglect. All forms of abuse and neglect may have long-lasting effects on children, which may require long-term medical or psychological treatment.

Typically, child abusers use fear to intimidate children and prevent them from speaking out about the abuse. Often, abusers take advantage of children by first gaining their trust then urging children to keep their so-called “secret” about the abuse, often threatening some sort of harm if the abused children speak. Abusers often seek work in day care centers as they have ready access to children there. Be sure the day care you choose is licensed and conducts background checks on its employees.

Children do not always communicate trauma verbally. Some key signs that a child has been abused and not telling you, include:

  • Acting clingy and fearful, especially when about to be dropped off at day care
  • Acting out in a sexually inappropriate manner
  • Behaving aggressively, kicking, biting, and scratching
  • Expressing discontent with the day care, someone at the day care
  • Exhibiting changes in behavior
  • Exhibiting changes in toileting habits
  • Exhibiting extreme mood swings
  • Faking illness, crying, making excuses not to attend day care
  • Having an unusual interest in sexual matters.
  • Reverting to infantile behavior
  • Suffering from nightmares
  • Suffering from soreness, irritation around the genitals
  • Suffering from unexplained bruises, welts, and cuts which do not go away
  • Suffering from urinary tract infection(s)
  • Wetting the bed
  • Withdrawing, behaving with unusual shyness

The personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP have years of experience representing clients in abuse and neglect lawsuits. The firm continues to offer free legal consultations to individuals with questions about filing a lawsuit.

Look Closely At Potential Day Care Facilities

Day care injuries include playground injuries, injuries that involve loose and falling objects, and burns from bottle warmers. Many day care facilities either have playgrounds at the facility or take children to a playground as part of their daily play activities; however, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) more than 200,000 children are hurt on playgrounds annually and nearly half of those injuries are serious and involve bone fractures, internal injuries, and concussions. Many of these injuries are preventable with appropriate supervision.

Children are curious and tend to touch loose items on surfaces. Facilities with tall bookshelves and cluttered spaces may pose dangerous temptations to curious hands and may pose increased risk for bruises, broken bones, and head injuries. Also, children who are young enough to be fed by bottle at home must be fed by bottle at day care. Bottles must be warmed and day care staff must be diligent to ensure that liquid is not too hot, and that children do not reach for hot bottles, cords, or warmers as they can splash scathing water on the children, leading to serious burns.

Among the best ways in which to ensure your children are not injured by day care abuse or negligence is to choose the right day care facility, visit the facility, and look closely at how the facility is run. Experts recommend that parents visit day cares before picking one and to visit on busy days when there are children at the facility. This will provide parents with a better idea of how children are cared for, the space the children will be in, and the activities that will be available. Be sure to look at the day care’s credentials and ensure that the facility is licensed and accredited by local, state, and national authorities such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the National Association for Family Child Care.

Linda Hassan Anderson, M.A., senior director for the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), says there are things to look for when deciding on your child’s day care. For instance, make sure the day care provides a stimulating environment with sufficient interaction to ensure you child is not developmentally, emotionally, or mentally stunted. Check for up-to-date toys and play areas. Ask how often toys are changed and cleaned, how the facility chooses age-appropriate activities, and if the facility follows a specific educational philosophy, points out.

Children need love and comfort and when parents are not with them; day care workers are expected to provide emotional support. If children are unattended, ignored when seeking attention or crying, or bullied by caregivers or children, consider these serious signs that your child may not flourish in this environment. “Look for a program that uses positive guidance with children, verses discipline and punishment,” Carolyn Stolov, family life expert at says. “When a child is having a behavior issue, does the teacher yell or belittle the child, or does she redirect the child and focus on what she wants the child to do verses what she doesn’t? Their main goal is to teach children, not punish.”

The maximum amount of children allowed for a large day care facility is 14, notes If more than 14 children are running around, there may be illegal practices taking place and children may be neglected.

Warning Signs of Abuse, Neglect at Child Day Care Centers
Warning Signs of Abuse, Neglect at Child Day Care Centers

Ensure the environment is safe and the facility is fit to take care of children. This may be done by ensuring all health and safety procedures are in place. Look for clues that may be warning signs such as if diapers are changed with gloves and if hands are regularly washed. Are special foods for children labeled? also suggests asking if caregivers smoke around children. Are safety bars on windows? 
One mother suggests looking inside caregivers’ cars, especially if they have trash in the cars and the cars are not clean and child locks and proper safety seating are not in place. And, be sure to ask how the facility transports all of the children in the event of an emergency. Day care facilities should also have an area for parents to meet and communicate with other parents, should ensure an open line of communication with the facility’s director, and should allow unscheduled visits.

If sick children are present in the day care, then your child risks falling ill. Ask about sick child policies, and toileting accidents, Anderson suggests. Look to see if children are involved in activities that promote educational advancement by instruction, toys, and/or reading material. Confirm that the providers are accredited by NAEYC. Ask about the activities the facility offers children and look at the reading material, notes The law mandates that an individual caring for more than one family that is not his/her own, must be licensed. Requirements vary by state; however, child care licenses should be displayed on site, including in family homes.

Once your child is in day care, pay close attention to how your child appears and acts before and after day care and bear in mind that not all forms of abuse or neglect involve physical injuries. Be sure you know how to talk to your children about their daily experiences at day care and remember that children tend to be trusting and easily influenced by adults who seek to take advantage of innocent children.

Filing a Day care Abuse and Neglect Lawsuit

If you or someone you know is interested in filing a personal injury lawsuit, contact the personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman today. For more information, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).