While the majority of child abuse occurs in the home, child abuse frequently occurs in other situations, such as at daycare. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, in 2011, at least 2,474 children were maltreated by daycare providers. This maltreatment includes neglect, physical abuse and sexual abuse. However, there were 41,798 cases where the relationship of the perpetrator to the victim was unknown. Furthermore, this only includes cases that were reported to the child’s local Child Protective Services Agency. As such, it is possible that this number is even higher than reported. With respect to daycares, each state has laws that set forth provisions that daycare providers must abide by in order to be licensed by the state. These laws usually apply to larger daycare centers rather than home centers that only watch a handful of children. Violation of any of these laws amounts to negligence as a matter of law, and a daycare center owner can be held liable if the violation of one of these laws leads to a child being sexually abused. Even without these laws, a daycare center operator can still be held liable for sexual abuse of the children in his or her charge. If the abuse is committed by an employee, volunteer, or family member of the daycare center operator, then liability can be based on the operator’s negligence in supervising the perpetrator, if the operator knew of or should have known of a reason to supervise the perpetrator. If the abuse is committed by an employee, the daycare center operator can also be held liable for negligently hiring the employee if a background check would have revealed something that would disqualify the employee from working at a daycare center. Finally, the day care center operator can be held liable for failing to fire an employee after the operator learns that the employee has abused one of the children. If the employee continues to abuse that child, or abuses other children, then the daycare center operator could be liable to the children who were abused after he or she knew about the initial abuse.
Andreozzi + Foote has represented victims of sexual abuse committed in daycare centers. If you or someone you know has fallen victim to sexual abuse in a daycare center and might need a lawyer, or simply needs legal guidance, do not hesitate to call our office. We do not charge for phone consultations, and even if we cannot be of assistance we will do everything we can to help point you in the right direction.