Nothing is more important than protecting the most vulnerable in society. And no member of society is more vulnerable than children. Extra care must therefore be employed to keep them safe, sound and secure. That duty and obligation often fall squarely on the shoulders of childcare facilities since during any given week, approximately 12.5 million preschoolers (children 5 or younger) are in childcare facilities. In Texas specifically, there are approximately 1.3 million children needing childcare at any given time. To meet that need, Texas has approximately 9800-licensed childcare facilities and 14,000 family childcare homes. Together, these facilities have approximately 1.1 million slots available. And the average childcare worker makes only $19,000 annually to care for those children.
Based on the above numbers, many of Texas’ most vulnerable citizens are being dropped off to childcare facilities that are overcrowded and staffed by childcare workers that are overworked and underpaid. In that environment safety rules are relaxed, overlooked and violated. This adds up to childcare abuse that results in serious injuries and even death.
Sadly though, some children in childcare facilities are injured or killed not because of accidents but due to the intentional conduct of some childcare workers. For instance, many children in childcare facilities are violated and damaged by physical and/or sexual abuse. Such cases present special challenges especially where the facility is a religiously affiliated organization. Nevertheless, the childcare facility is ultimately liable for the tortious conduct of its employees under the theories of negligent hiring and negligent supervision or both. This can happen where the facility failed to run background checks before hiring an employee or failed to adequately train or supervise an employee.
To add injury to insult, Texas law does not require liability insurance for many childcare facilities, e.g., licensed childcare homes. We strongly advise parents not to entrust their child(ren) to facilities that are not state licensed/regulated and have no liability insurance. Further, we caution parents not to be persuaded by facilities that have only homeowners insurance because many homeowners policies have exceptions or exclusions that permit insurance companies to avoid paying when a business is being conducted out of a home. Frankly, these facilities have little or no incentive to follow safety rules.
Laws should be in place to protect our children from the dangers that lurk in childcare facilities that are owned and operated by unscrupulous individuals whether they are large conglomerates or small mom-pop operations. However, those laws are nonexistent or weak in many states including Texas. Call us for free consultation if your child has been injured or killed at a childcare facility.