Legal Issues in Daycare Centers

By Chelsea Baldwin

children pictures image by Vladimir Kirienko from

Each daycare center must work to provide a healthy, safe environment for children or the staff could face serious legal repercussions. Ensuring your daycare center provides appropriate care and treatment gives children a safe place to come and gives their parents peace of mind knowing their child is under proper care.

Child Supervision

Keeping the children safe involves watching them at all times of the day to ensure nothing bad or drastic happens. According to the law, no child can be left without direct adult supervision at any time during the day. While a staff person for a daycare center can be as young as 16 years old, the staff members responsible for directly supervising the children at all times must be at least 18 years of age.

Staff to Child Ratios

Having enough staff on hand to care for the number of children in the daycare center is crucial. Without enough eyes, ears and hands to look out for and care for the children, something disastrous could easily happen. The ratios range with the age of the children being supervised and the number of children per staff member goes up as the children get older. For example, in the state of New York, one adult staff member can be responsible for up to three babies under six weeks old or up to nine five-year-old children.

Child Abuse

One of the biggest concerns for parents in choosing a daycare center for their child is how well the children are treated, even if they have done something to deserve discipline. While disciplinary actions may be taken within a daycare center to keep children from misbehaving too severely, take care to ensure you don't cross any lines or deal too harshly with children when they aggravate you. Any person hired onto your staff must undergo a background check to make sure they have a clean record involving caring for children to avoid any potential problems in the future.


Ensuring the proper nutrition of the children in your daycare center should be a central focus of your daily activities. In addition to the need to provide ample, nutritious snacks to the children, you must provide one to two meals per day for them. For example, if a child is present for four hours or more, you must ensure they eat at least one nutritious meal. Your menus must be reviewed and approved by a nutritional professional on a regular basis, and you need to display the daily menus in an easy-to-find locations for the parents. If a child has special dietary need, you must accommodate him.

Safety Concerns

Safety issues concerning the inside and outside of your facility must be addressed in order to eliminate any potential health or life threatening concerns. For example, you must have building evacuation routes and procedures planned out in case the building catches on fire and you should cover all radiators and pipes to avoid potential injury to the child. You must also use barriers to prevent children from accessing any potentially harmful area like drains, cleaning supplies, heaters or sharp edges.