An in-home childcare provider was recently arrested for selling prescription medication to an undercover officer out of the same home she used to care for children. She is charged with trafficking in opium and selling a controlled substance at a childcare facility. This incident occurred soon after the North Carolina statute went into effect at the beginning of 2013 expanding the criminal background check requirement for daycare workers. A person working at a daycare must complete a criminal background check in order to work at a daycare, and will now be subject to a background check every three years to ensure that he or she has not obtained any new criminal charges that could make them unfit for child care. An in home child care provider must also have members of their household over 15 checked.
In North Carolina a person cannot run or work in a daycare if they have been convicted of any charge of neglect or abuse of children. They also cannot work there if they have been convicted of a sexually violent offense against a minor, also known as a reportable conviction. However, North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services does not completely prohibit workers with a criminal background. An individual may be prevented from being a child care provider if the Department determines that the individual is a habitually excessive user of alcohol, illegally uses narcotic or other impairing drugs, or is mentally or emotionally impaired to an extent that may be injurious to children. It is particularly egregious if the employer lied on a background check or withheld information about themselves or a potential hire. The primary focus is whether that person’s presence could affect the safety and health of the children in care.
A daycare center, regardless of whether it is a large facility or a home provider, is obligated to provide a safe environment for the child. They can be held liable in a civil action if there was gross negligence, wanton conduct, or intentional wrongdoing, but not for mere negligence if the employer or operator of a child care facility performed the statutorily required background checks. So if an employer or operator knew or should have known that their employee had a criminal background and was prone to behaviors that could endanger a child, and a child was injured because of that employee’s behaviors, then they could be found criminally and civilly liable. For example, if the recently arrested lady was an employee who was hired by a daycare operator who knew of her drug habit and hired her anyway, the owner could potentially be held liable.
The North Carolina day care injury attorneys at Auger & Auger understand that placing your child in someone else’s care is already stressful. That stress becomes tenfold if your child is injured while in the care of another. If your child was injured on the premises of a daycare and you would like a free consultation, contact us online or call us at (704) 364-3361 or (800) 559-5741.
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