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North Carolina Child Care DHHS has imposed safety standards | My Baby My Star

Placing a child in daycare can be one of the hardest things a working parent has to do.

On the other hand, the use of childcare offers is extremely beneficial for the school and social development of children. We all want to trust that our children are safe and receiving the right treatment from the caregivers we choose.

In general, childcare facilities are responsible and caring, and they are a necessary part of our society. In November 2019 alone, more than 213,000 infants through the age of 12 were enrolled in day care centers in North Carolina; 161,010 or 75% were infants.

However, like anywhere in the world, bad things can happen in a child care facility. For example, child abuse caused 1,840 child deaths in the United States in 2019, 16.6% of which were attributed to non-parents such as child caregivers. Although North Carolina has clear laws governing child care facilities such as For example, appropriate sleeping conditions, feeding schedules and practices, ratio requirements, and hygiene practices, a facility may not fully implement these requirements, may not enforce them, or may have staff who may fail to follow them.

Additionally, factors outside of a childcare facility can negatively impact employee performance. For example, some childcare facilities are understaffed, particularly in light of COVID-19, resulting in overworked staff. Working with infants and young children can be particularly stressful, and feeling exhausted, undervalued, or underpaid does not make things better for these workers.

Liability and Damages

North Carolina law related to child care violations can be complicated. Several legal sources regulate the obligations of childcare facilities and their employees. The North Carolina legislature has enacted laws that regulate child care facilities. The North Carolina Department of Human Services, Division of Child Development and Early Education (“DHHS”) has imposed safety standards, including requirements that facilities be properly licensed, conduct appropriate background checks on employees, and meet sanitation requirements. There are also industry standards for daycare and a facility may have self-imposed additional requirements through its own materials, including any agreements/contracts with parents.

DHHS will investigate any injury at a daycare or other child care facility. In addition, previous DHHS inspections and investigations may be accessible to determine if there have been previous, ongoing issues at the facility. Law enforcement may be involved, and other parents of children who have used the daycare may also have important information. It is extremely important to examine these sources to identify evidence relevant to a possible personal injury claim.

If a child is injured in day care, several people can be held liable for the child’s injuries. For example, a child’s injuries may result from the facility not maintaining safe conditions, not properly training and equipping employees, or following applicable laws. If this is the case, it is important to examine the ownership structure for the facility, including determining whether a separate entity had managerial oversight or other responsibilities. An employee’s own willful or negligent conduct could also have caused the child’s injuries. Also, a child care facility may or may not have adequate insurance, which can affect a child’s overall recovery.

When a minor is harmed, applicable North Carolina law is complex. A minor may have their own claims for their injuries, including pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement, loss of use of any part of their body, reduced earning capacity as an adult, or the durability associated with ongoing injuries. The minor’s parents may also be a party to facilitate the reimbursement of medical expenses incurred or incurred before the minor turns 18.

To ensure fair legal representation when a lawsuit is filed, the court appoints a guardian ad litem to pursue the case on behalf of the minor. North Carolina requires that a minor’s settlement be reviewed and approved by a court to ensure that the minor receives appropriate representation and that the settlement is in the minor’s best interests. The recovery of a minor is held by the court until the minor turns 18. However, an experienced attorney can help create a “structured annuity payment” or trust (including a “special needs trust” if necessary) to ensure the child’s recovery is protected and maximized.

Problems can also arise with state benefits. If a child receives government health insurance (e.g., Medicaid) or other government benefits, the settlement proceeds may affect their ability to continue to qualify for such benefits. Therefore, careful planning is crucial. An experienced attorney can help structure the proceeds of a child’s settlement to ensure the child’s recovery does not adversely affect other areas of their life.

The statute of limitations (time limit for filing a lawsuit) may be different for a child’s childcare claim — including the ability to give them until they are 18 to file a lawsuit. However, this is not the case for all types of damage, which can be limited to a shorter limitation period (including three years). And there may be other legal considerations that need to be carefully analyzed regarding statutory time limits for child claims. Therefore, as with all personal injury cases, it is best to contact a qualified attorney as soon as possible if an injury does occur. This is also necessary to ensure that a thorough investigation is carried out as quickly as possible and necessary information is not lost or forgotten.


Dealing with a child’s daycare-related injury can be difficult and emotionally draining. Unfortunately, these injuries can be devastating. Hiring an experienced lawyer can help an affected family get through this difficult time and protect the child’s rights in a complicated area of ​​law.

© 2022 Ward and Smith, PA. All rights reserved.

National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 82

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