Daycare licensing is much more than a way for the state to collect fees. Licensing, in fact, is designed to provide a way to make daycare facilities accountable for the conditions in which they provide for the children and for how they treat the children. The licensing process makes sure that workers are competent, facilities are clean and safe and that the risk of children being in the presence of a potential abuser is minimized. Unfortunately, some parents voluntarily leave themselves without these safeguards.
Unlicensed facilities can be found all over. Usually, these are set up by individuals who, in reality, may be very good caregivers. They may be retired daycare workers or friends who have a lot of child-rearing experience, which is sometimes convenient, but which is not as safe as having your child at a real daycare facility, for several reasons.
A lot of state licensing requirements have to do with making sure that facilities are clean. Children are more vulnerable than adults to illnesses caused by improper hygiene and facilities need to be very clean to make sure that the children aren’t at undue risk of being infected by bacteria and viruses. This means that the facility has to be professionally cleaned and that the staff has to understand how to provide that level of cleanliness, which is not really possible in someone’s home, where unlicensed facilities are oftentimes located.
Unlicensed facilities don’t check for criminal histories and for licensing on the part of their employees as do above-the-board daycare providers. This is a very dangerous situation. Without these checks, it’s possible for someone with a very bad history of abuse toward children to become a caregiver without anyone knowing. Parents do not have the same resources in these situations than they would if they were working with a licensed facility.
If your child was abused or neglected at an unlicensed facility, you should speak with an attorney. Daycare neglect and daycare abuse are both cause to file lawsuits. The attorney can let you know if you have this option and, if you do, they may want to take you on as a client and help you get heard in court. If they succeed in arguing your case, there is a chance that you could receive substantial compensation in the form of a settlement or a jury award from the provider and that it could help pay for the damages.