Our children are precious but we often have to put them in the care of others from an early age, whether at schools or daycares. When children are younger, they are more susceptible to serious injuries. In Virginia, the level of oversight of daycares is questionable. Injuries at daycares in Virginia have sparked mounting concerns.
This week, WAVY 10 On Your Side highlighted an investigation into a daycare in Gloucester County following reports a child’s skull was fractured in an accident.
Court documents obtained by WAVY stated a 7-year-old was climbing up a zip-line in the playground at the daycare when the child fell and suffered a fractured skull. The court documents alleged the child was unsupervised at the time.
WAVY reported the child spent eight days at CHKD for treatment. A fractured skull is an extremely serious injury that can cause traumatic brain damage. The extent of the child’s ongoing injuries were not clear from the report.
The TV channel reported the facility is a home daycare. Neighbors said they often see children outside unsupervised at the daycare and children with no coats on in cold weather.
Gloucester County Sheriff’s Office said the complaint is still a very active investigation and were not releasing any further information.
The problem of injuries at daycares in Virginia is not a new one. The lack of regulation of facilities for young children in the state is linked to multiple injuries and deaths.
The Washington Post published an investigation in 2014 that found at least 43 deaths of children in unlicensed daycares in Virginia over a 10-year period.
The deaths included that of 1-year-old Andy Ngo who died in a home daycare in Roanoke in 2010. The daycare was full of children at the time. The child died after he was swaddled and flipped on his stomach in an unlicensed daycare that was caring for 10 kids at the time. Andy’s death was ruled to be accidental asphyxiation.
The Post noted the state limit for unlicensed daycares is five. However, the rules relating to unlicensed daycares are poorly enforced.
Thousands of people operate unlicensed daycares from their homes in a vacuum of rules or standards in Virginia. If they care for five children or fewer, they do not have to comply with licensing and regulations, including inspection and training requirements. This is an alarming state of affairs. In areas like Hampton Roads, a lack of daycares and the cost of some of the licensed providers pushes parents to place children in unlicensed facilities. Often they are unaware of the lack of regulation.
In contrast, licensed day-care providers face inspections twice a year, criminal background checks on staff and mandatory training, including up-to-date CPR certification.
Most U.S. states have stricter regulations than Virginia for their in-home day-care providers, the Post reported.
The national child resource group Child Care Aware of America lists Virginia as being among the worst eight states in the nation for childcare. The finding was based on the number of children who are allowed to be watched without a license.
Maryland and 10 other states require licenses if a provider cares for any child who is not their relative. Some Virginia cities like Fairfax and Arlington have brought in their own regulations requiring daycare providers, no matter their size, to receive background checks, permits, training, and inspections.
Injuries at Daycares in Virginia – Hampton Roads Has Poor Regulations
The child death rate in daycares in these cities in northern Virginia is about half of that found in Hampton Roads and rural parts of Virginia.
In 2016, a woman from Virginia Beach was charged with neglect and abuse after a 4-month-old girl died in her care. She was also charged related to running an unlicensed daycare from her home.
The woman was indicted on 10 counts of operating a facility or agency without a license, misdemeanors punishable by up to 12 months in jail.
Investigators said they found 17 children at the woman’s daycare, 12 more than the five an unlicensed daycare is allowed to operate with. Social services officials told the media she was previously investigated in 2005 for running a daycare with too many children in her care.
This tragedy and others like it, highlight the lax framework unlicensed daycares operate under in Virginia. It appears the daycare in Virginia Beach was allowed to operate even after a red flag was raised years earlier. More robust laws may have saved a child’s life.
We hope your child is never hurt at a daycare. If you are concerned, please contact us today. At Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers, we are alarmed about injuries at daycares in Virginia and can file lawsuits against unethical owners. Call us at (757) 455-0077.