What is daycare/child care abuse?

Daycare or child care abuse is simply the abuse, physical or mental, of a child while in another person’s physical custody and control. This is often due to the fact that the child’s parents are working, or it is due to the educational opportunities or special needs of the child. This type of abuse can come in many different forms: it can be a one-time occurrence, or it can be a long-term occurrence; it can be found to be target one specific child, or it can be found as a system of policies or procedures targeting many children. The real issue comes down to the identification of abuse, because children generally lack the necessary understanding and vocabulary to properly articulate concerns or problems they are facing. Most of the times, parents are very surprised to learn of this type of abuse—whether the information comes through a confirmed, factual occurrence or an unconfirmed allegation.

Child care type services come in many different forms:

After school care; Preschool programs; Residential camps; Drop-in care; Day camps; Home-based care; Daycare centers or institution-based care

The National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse identified an interesting statistic in the percentage of day care abuse cases: they found that the percentage of abuse has remained steady over the past fifteen years, and approximately three percent of all reported abuse cases occur within a daycare or child care type setting. Despite this, the actual number of reported child abuse cases is increasing. According to a recent study, about 27,000 minor children were victims of some type of daycare abuse. Right now, it is estimated that approximately 3.8 million children under the age of 5 are enrolled in some type of daycare or child care service. And, unfortunately, about 1 child in every 140 children under the age of 5 (who are enrolled in some type of daycare program) will suffer some form of abuse in this type of facility.

These are alarming statistics because daycare programs are one of the fastest growing sections of the United States economy due to the increase in the number of households in which both parents work. Devaluation of the U.S. dollar leads to products and services becoming more expensive and, thus, there is a much higher number of both parents working than there were twenty or thirty years ago. I remember both of my parents working in the 70s and 80s due to this phenomenon, and I can tell you that this trend will only increase in the years to come. Therefore, get ready for more daycare centers opening and more children enrolling. Another statistic found that approximately 1.3 million people are employed in the daycare/child care industry, and job openings are numerous due to stressful working conditions and dissatisfaction with benefits and pay.

State and federal regulation of child daycare centers

All daycare and child care centers are regulated through state and federal regulations. The federal regulation is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHS), in the department of Administration for Children and Families; and it provides a baseline for all fifty states to meet in terms of regulation. You can visit http://nccic.acf.hhs.gov/ for more information about the federal regulation of child daycare centers.

The state regulations enforce the laws of child daycare centers that operate within each state. In California, this is regulated under the California Department of Social Services (CDSS).33 You can visit http://www.ccid.ca.gov/ for more information on the state regulation of child daycare centers in the state of California. Each state has different guidelines and procedures, but the processing of claims of abuse or neglect are often transferred through the individual state agencies first. California monitors daycare facilities through compliance checks to make sure the history of licensing records are made available to parents, including any prior claims, compliance history, and investigations. California also has the enforcement power to immediately close any unsafe daycare facility.