Many businesses that have been closed or limited in their operation as a precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19. While some business are operating remotely, essential businesses, such as child care facilities remain open. As a parent, deciding who will watch over, care for, and protect your child while you are at work can be one of the most difficult and impactful decisions one will make.
Making an Educated Decision on Child Care
The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning can offer invaluable assistance through this process on their website. You can search for licensed daycares, each of which is quality rated on a scale of 1 star to 3 stars (the best), and access inspection reports. Inspection reports include 1) licensing visits, 2) monitoring visits and 3) complaint investigations, if any, for each facility. The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning also promulgates the Rules and Regulations (Chapter 591-1-1 effective/updated October 1, 2019) that apply to daycares in the Georgia. A summary of some of the safety related regulations is provided below:
- Comprehensive background checks for employees are required and must be maintained in the personnel file. These checks are required prior to hire and if 1) the center knows or reasonably should have known the employee was arrested or charged with a crime; 2) if the person is not employed in the child care industry for a period of 180 days, 3) at least every 5 years; and 4) whenever the Department requests;
- Disciplinary actions shall not be detrimental to the physical or mental health of a child, this means the provider should not physically punish, threaten, medicate or isolate a child. They should not be confined for disciplinary purposes in a swing, highchair, carrier, walker, etc.
Staffing Ratios at childcare facilities
|Age of Children||Staff: Child Ratio||Max Group Size|
|Infants less than 1 year old or children under 18 months who are not walking||1:6||12|
|1 year olds who are walking||1:8||16|
|2 year olds||1:10||20|
|3 year olds||1:15||30|
|4 year olds||1:18||36|
|5 year olds||1:20:||40|
|6 years and olds||1:25||50|
- Additional supervision requirements are in place for field trips and all chaperones, other than a parent, must comply with the background check requirements;
- At least one staff member who is trained in CPR and first aid must be present at all times;
- Each center has a license capacity based upon the size of the facility;
- Climbing and swinging equipment shall have a resilient surface beneath the equipment and the fall zone from such equipment must be adequately maintained by the Center to assure continuing resiliency;
- Vehicles shall have a satisfactory annual safety check and be equipped with a fire extinguisher;
- Anyone transporting children shall obtain state-approved transportation training
Most people are surprised to learn that daycare centers are not required to carry liability insurance. Georgia statute O.C.G.A. § 20-1A-4(9) grants the Department of Early Care and Learning with the power to merely recommend that a licensed daycare carry liability insurance to protect children in its care. The same is true for family child care learning homes (i.e., child care facilities operating out of a person’s home.). Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. R. 290-2-3-.11(2)(n).
Effectively, this means that if the unthinkable happens and your child is injured while at daycare or a child care learning home, there may be no available recourse or avenue to recover. For this reason, it is very important to determine whether or not the facility you are considering maintains insurance. If the facility does not have insurance, they are technically required to post a notice of this fact, but that does not always happen, thus, it is prudent to request the daycare’s insurance information before enrolling your child in the program.
Initiating an Investigation – Georgia Resources.
Even the most diligent and attentive parents may select a center that appears, on its face, to be a safe and nurturing environment, only to find out with time that everything is not as it should be. If you have concerns about the welfare of your child, or any child, at a daycare center, reporting it to Bright from the Start: The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning may be the first step to correcting the issue. The Department will investigate any report concerning a licensing violation at a child care center, group day care or a family child care home. To file a complaint, call 404.657.5562 or 404.656.5957. The results of each investigation are publicly available.