Nothing is more devastating than discovering that your child has been abused while in trusted hands at daycare. Abuse that happens during childhood can be particularly traumatic and have lasting effects throughout a victim’s life. When a child suffers an injury due to daycare abuse, the whole family can suffer in the form of medical bills, lost wages, and mental anguish. Fortunately, you can seek justice and compensation for the damages the daycare center caused through a Chicago daycare abuse and negligence lawyer.
If your child was injured or harmed because of daycare abuse, contact Abels & Annes. Our personal injury attorneys will investigate your case so that the at-fault party is held accountable for their egregious acts.
Common Types of Daycare Abuse
Sadly, abuse in daycares is more common than most people think. In 2017, it was discovered that over 2,200 child care providers were abusing or neglecting children in their care. This led to an estimated 30,000 children who needed treatment in emergency rooms every year as a result of the abuse that they suffered in a daycare setting. This includes physical, verbal, and sexual abuse, as well as negligence.
In place of acceptable discipline, some daycare staff resort to physical punishment. The cause of this physical abuse can vary, but may include overworked employees who are too stressed, daycare’s not vetting employees well-enough to remove criminal employees, and the hiring of unqualified staff caused by a desperation for new staff members.
Verbal abuse, when not stopped right away, can traumatize a child just like physical abuse. Demeaning, abusive, and controlling verbal assaults can cause serious harm to a child. In some cases, the verbal abuse may be subtle or severe, but in both circumstances it’s not uncommon for a child to not tell their parents for fear of repercussions from their abuser.
Emotional abuse can be similar to verbal abuse is that it’s words that cause the trauma. For example, insulting a child’s intelligence, mocking them, or making them feel unwanted. Emotional abuse can also be a physical act, like making a child do demeaning tasks, punishing them in bizarre and public ways, or otherwise causing a breakdown of their emotional wellbeing. Another form of emotional abuse is called deprivational abuse. This occurs when a caregiver deliberately withholds food or water, forces a child into isolation, or withholds affection as a form of punishment.
Sexual abuse is one of the most aggresious types of daycare abuse. Sexual abusers know they are more likely to get hired at a center that is desperate for workers. These centers may be less inclined to do proper background checks, and their lack of staffing removes oversight. In some cases, a sexual predator may be a daycare staff member, a volunteer or third-party, or a daycare staff member’s friend or family member. No matter what sexual abuse occurred or why, it’s the responsibiluty of the daycare center to protect your child and ensure that no harm comes to them.
Child neglect is a form of abuse which unfortunately can be prevalent in daycare centers, especially if it is understaffed and lacks resources. Daycare neglect is the mistreatment of a child through failing to meet their daily needs. This can include providing healthcare, supervision, nutrition, or other needs. While negligent caregivers usually aren’t actively seeking to harm a child, their carelessness still leads to injuries. One of the most common forms of daycare negligence that leads to injuries is a lack of supervision. Unattended children can wander off the premises, fall from playground equipment, or harm other children. When a parent trusts their child’s care with a daycare center, it’s the responsibility of the staff at the facility to ensure that all children receive their basic needs at all times.
How can I tell if my child has been abused at daycare?
If your child regularly attends daycare, you should be aware of these signs of child abuse.
- Unexplained injuries: Bruises, scratches, and recurring infections are just some of the injuries that could mean a daycare is acting negligently or abusively toward your child.
- Behavioral changes: Regression is a possible sign of abuse. A child may revert to habits they’ve grown out of, such as thumbsucking or bedwetting. Becoming withdrawn or aggressive are also behavioral changes that an abused child may present.
- Diaper rash: Diaper rash on infants and toddlers could be a sign that a daycare isn’t properly staffed. Worse, it could mean your child is being deliberately ignored by staff members.
- Hunger or thirst: If your children are always extremely hungry or thirsty after daycare, they may not be given sufficient food and liquids throughout the day.
- Fearfulness – First day jitters are normal. However, take note if your child regularly becomes anxious when approaching the facility or when you talk about the daycare.
What should I do if my child has suffered abuse at daycare?
If your child has suffered abuse at a daycare, or if you suspect abuse, you should report it, document it, and seek medical care.
- Contact 9-1-1 and report the abuse or suspicion to the police.
- Call 1-800-25-ABUSE to contact the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS)
- Document as much as you can. Take pictures that support your claim.
- See a doctor as soon as possible. A medical professional can identify hidden injuries or signs of abuse that were overlooked.
- Contact a child injury lawyer. An attorney with experience in child abuse cases can help you by gathering further evidence and advocating for you and your child to receive the compensation necessary to handle the financial strain and to get the help everyone needs.
Who can be held responsible if my child was abused at daycare?
Child abuse is a felony, and the law holds the perpetrator responsible. Depending on the form of abuse, the abuser could face between 6 and 60 years of imprisonment in Illinois.
Aside from criminal proceedings for child abuse, parents and guardians of abused children can also bring forward a civil claim for damages suffered due to the abuse or neglect.
In most cases, the personal injury claim will be filed against the daycare center. But depending on the circumstances, there may also be a need to file a claim against their personnel and other third parties.
If your child was abused or neglected at daycare, you will need to seek compensation for medical expenses, mental healthcare, pain and suffering, lost wages from the parent missing work, and among other damages this type of act causes..
Since the effects and treatment for abuse can last for years, it’s important that your claim is valued based on this fact. An experienced attorney can protect you from settling for less than your child needs to cope with the aftermath of abuse by proving the need for care and aggressively negotiating on your child’s behalf.
How do I choose a safe and responsible daycare for my child?
With thousands of daycares in and around Chicago to choose from, it can be difficult to confidently select a safe and responsible center that suits your childcare needs. Several criteria can help you narrow down your options.
- Caregivers: Illinois has strict caregiver to child ratios that daycares are expected to follow. The younger the children, the smaller the ratio. For example, there needs to be one caregiver for every four infants, and one caregiver per 10 children in the three to four age range. A fully staffed daycare means there are enough eyes and ears to take care of each child. Low staff turnover is also a sign of a competent daycare since employees tend to leave dysfunctional workplaces quickly. An understaffed facility is often desperate in their hiring because they need someone immediately.
- Licensing: Illinois child care providers must be licensed through the Department of Children and Family Services. While visiting prospective daycares, ask to see proof of a valid license from the state. A dependable center won’t shy away from showing you their credentials.
- Safety Standards: As a parent, you probably child-proofed your home in the early years. You know that covered electric outlets, baby gates, and minimal access to hazards reduces the chance of injury. Childcare facilities must take similar precautions and then some. Fenced-in playgrounds, uncluttered spaces, secured shelving, and locked-away hazards such as cleaning supplies and scissors are a few good signs to look for. A safe daycare will also be vigilant about pick-up procedures and will closely monitor who comes and goes from the premises.
How can a daycare abuse lawyer help my family?
An experienced daycare abuse lawyer is essential in getting the justice and compensation your family needs. We will thoroughly investigate your family’s case and clearly demonstrate the depth of the damages. This helps to increase the value of the claim so that you can give your child the resources they need to heal.
If your child has suffered abuse or neglect at a daycare in or around Chicago, speak to the attorneys of Abels & Annes.
Our initial consultations are always free. For a case evaluation, call us at 312-924-7575 or contact us online.