I guess “several thousand minimum standards” is not enough

16 08 2010

This week I read a decision from the Austin Court of Appeals that made my jaw drop. It described a child care center that came within a hair’s breadth of tragedy.

A trip to the swimming pool

Parent volunteers and care givers from the center took a group of children to a swimming pool. One of the children, whom the court referred to as “E,” went unnoticed to the deep end of the pool, let go of the side, and slipped under water. Eventually another child saw that E was at the bottom of the pool and a third child pulled E up from the bottom and over to the pool’s side. By this time, E’s face was blue. A lifeguard began rescue breathing, paramedics arrived and revived him, and he was flown by helicopter to an Austin hospital. Thankfully, he survived without permanent harm.

More problems

There were other lapses in supervision at this same center. For example, when a care giver took a group of children ages 6-8 on a field trip, she stopped at her apartment to get money and left the children unattended, out of her sight, and with the van’s motor running for more than a minute while she went inside.

The state stepped in

Because of these and other incidents, the state denied the owner’s application for a non-expiring permit to run the facility. But the owner requested an administrative hearing, and an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) ruled that denial of the permit was too severe a sanction for the problems that had occurred. Regarding the incident at the swimming pool, the ALJ found that the center had maintained the required ratio of care givers to children and concluded that the incident was not sufficient grounds to deny the permit because “there was no neglect and the accident happened despite imperfect but reasonable and multiple layers of supervision.”

The law

Child care centers are regulated by the Department of Family and Protective Services. The court decision points out that the Department has established “several thousand minimum standards” for such facilities. Those standards address everything from record-keeping to detailed specifications regarding the physical condition of the center.

Just my opinion

I am the parent of a child who has recently spent a year at a child care center. I am thankful that the Department imposes “several thousand minimum standards” on such centers. And after reading this court decision, I think a few more wouldn’t hurt.

To learn more details about the case, go the Court’s website at www.3rdcoa.courts.state.tx.us and search for Texas Department of Family and Protective Services v. Drozd, case # 03-09-00507-CV.

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2 responses

16 08 2010
Brad Closson

Great blog David. What a scary situation that was nearly tragic. Thanks for sharing.

19 08 2010
Hector Cadena

Wow. That’s scary. As a parent of an 8 year old who has to rely on day care, it’s scary to know the disasterous things that could possible go wrong.

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