Caring for Our Children
“I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside…” (Whitney Houston)
As a single mother of two, one of my greatest challenges was finding affordable, quality childcare. My city houses many commercial daycares and pre-schools but lacked the personal connection of knowing who I was entrusting my children to. Fortunately for me, I was able to place the most valuable people in my life with a neighborhood friend who ran an in-home daycare, and I was so blessed to see my young son and daughter flourish in the loving environment that also offered a family approach to childcare. At the time, I never even considered whether my friend carried daycare insurance. However, with more individuals choosing to provide in-home care, parents and providers should consider the risks and determine whether the daycare is adequately insured in the event of injury to children.
In most states, providers are limited to 6 children or fewer with 3 being the maximum number for children under 2 years old. This also would include any children who reside in the home. Any residential daycare that serves more than 6 would be required to retain a daycare license from the State and would need to meet age, health, and safety requirements as directed by the Social Services Department to operate within the authority of the state Day Care laws (dss.mo.gov).
In the State of Missouri, day care providers must meet the criteria set forth on the Health and Safety Checklist, which includes but is not limited to the following stipulations:
Must meet all local ordinances, codes, and regulations, especially with fire safety and pertinent devices (smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and carbon monoxide detectors)
Must have working heating and cooling systems
Hygiene items (soap, towels, sanitizers, and any other required items) must be readily available to the children
Emergency preparedness plan and contact information must be in place
Fencing and protected play areas for outside must meet safety and supervision standards
Animals must meet guidelines and pose no threat to children
A TB assessment must be performed, and the provider must not be infectious
Providers must submit to mental and physical evaluation at the time the daycare is opened and again every two years
All providers and any adult resident over 17 years of age are subject to background checks
There are several training requirements that must be completed by the provider
Records must be kept and managed in compliance with state standards (dss.mo.gov)
As you can see by the partial list of requirements, only individuals who have a genuine desire to pursue and operate as an in-home daycare will go through the all the necessary steps for becoming an approved provider. There may be some providers, however, who do not follow through and instead circumvent the requirements to operate in compliance with safety standards. With that in mind, parents should require Evidence of Insurance and the coverage should address the following risks associated specifically with childcare.
General Liability – Just like commercial daycares, in-home providers are legally liable when caring for children. They should carry coverage that would provide protection if a child would be injured or damaged in some way due to negligence in the operation or activities of the daycare.
Food Prep Liability – Because children are often in daycare during a parent’s workday, the care giver will most likely need to feed the children at least one meal per day and possibly more. Food prep liability would offer protection for the provider in the event a child became ill due to improperly prepared or spoiled food that was served.
Commercial Vehicle Coverage – In running an in-home daycare, my friend often planned field trips for my children and they went many places, from bowling to the movies, and I never questioned if there was coverage for the babysitter to take my children on these trips in her vehicle. When a caregiver loads the children in his or her personal vehicle, however, the family car has just become a work-related vehicle and coverage could be called into question depending on the provider. With that in mind, a childcare provider should consider carrying commercial coverage on the vehicle to protect the activities of the daycare.
Sexual Misconduct/Abuse Coverage – Unfortunately, we all have read and heard the multiple stories of abuse that occurs at the hands of sexual predators while operating in the role of childcare providers. And the allegations of abuse have become more and more prevalent in our society that has become increasingly aware of the backlash providers incur from loss of reputation and income due to allegations. Sexual Acts Coverage can help offer protection against allegations and provide coverage as needed.
Corporal Punishment – Many parents have different ideas about effective discipline and some may be fine with physical discipline as a part of the childcare environment, but providers should be aware that this may be an area of vulnerability when dealing with discipline in the daycare. Corporal punishment liability may provide protection for the provider should allegations of abuse arise from use of physical discipline during the operation of the daycare.
As you can readily see, the list is extensive of risks associated with operating an in-home daycare and these protections should be in place to benefit the provider, parent, and child. If you have any question about coverage or are looking at starting a daycare operation, please contact or call on a Loomis Insurance Agency professional to go over your insurance needs. We look forward to hearing from you soon!