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Daycare nightmares: Who is minding the little ones?


Good daycare here in Southern California has always been a major concern for parents with small children, but after two questionable incidences recently, it leaves parents wondering where the state authorities are and how often a typical facility gets inspected.

Just last month a man went to the emergency room with 4 fingers missing. He said that he had accidentally blew his fingers off with a gun. After further analysis, the doctors concluded that the injuries were not consistent with a gun injury and called in law enforcement. They later found that he made explosives at his home in Lake Elsinore. Also at this home he grew marijuana and his mother ran a daycare center for children. Fortunately no children were injured in the explosion, but it could have been much worse!

Another recent close call was when a licensed daycare “lost” two of the toddlers they were caring for. The two kids had escaped through a broken fence during nap time and were found later walking along an active Metrolink train rail. Neighbors actually found the toddlers and called police. They had no identification on them and only when the officers concluded that they must have walked from the YMCA facility, they took them back there. You can only imagine the outrage of a parent when you go to pick up your child, only to be told, “I’m sorry but we can’t find your child”.

Both of these cases are currently being investigated by the Community Care Licensing Division of the Department of Social Services. Since 1990, over 31,000 children have been treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries obtained in child care/day care facilities and sadly, 56 have been killed nationwide.

Not all facilities are created equal, so before you leave your child either in a licensed home or larger daycare center; ask lots of questions, perform background checks and make sure that the center is following all of the California state guidelines.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission, suggests a safety checklist with the following items to ensure the facility you choose is safe:
• Playground maintenance/ surfacing: Check equipment, surface materials and fences to be sure all items are safe.
• Window blinds and curtain cords: This is a major choking hazard. Make sure there are no looped cords and vertical blinds are held down tight.
• Safety gates: Inside the home to avoid stairs and as well as outside to avoid pool areas and other dangers.
• Cribs: Older cribs may not meet all current safety standards; major choking and suffocation hazard.

James Ballidis is a personal injury attorney practicing in Orange County, California.

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