Monday July 9th, 2012, a Day Care Van from the Alpha Kids Center located at 8511 N. Houston Rosslyn Road, Houston, Texas 77008 ran a red light causing an accident. The collision occurred on Gulf Bank near Beltway 8 as the van was returning to the Alpha Kids Center. Sixteen children (between the ages of 6-12) and two adults in the van were all injured in the wreck. No life-threatening injuries have been reported so far.
Upon investigating the crash, the Houston Police Department learned that the driver of the day care van, Conception Coronado, did not have a valid Texas Driver’s license nor legal residency status in the United States. To make matters worse, the van was not approved to carry sixteen kids and two adults and did not have enough seat belts for all of the occupants.
Both Coronado and the day care owner, Darryl Freeman, are now facing charges of injury to a child. Sixteen counts potentially. They also face charges of criminal negligence. Darryl Freeman will further have to answer to charges for overloading the vehicle with passengers and non-use of seat belts. Needless to say, they will also likely face civil lawsuits under Texas injury law for their reckless actions.
The owner of a day care operation has a legal obligation to check that the van driver has a valid driver’s license. Additionally, all day care personnel are required to have back ground and criminal history checks before they can be employed by a licensed day care facility. Had these checks been performed, it would have been revealed that Conception Coronado was not legally qualified to work in this country, much less a day care with children. Furthermore, being that Conception Coronado was an employee of the day care, appropriate wage and tax documentation required by Federal Law would have raised red flags telling Darryl Freeman that Conception Coronado could not be legally employed.
The reality of the situation in Texas is that day care regulation is rather limited. The Department of Public Health and Human Services requires that documentation be submitted regarding employees and owners at day care facilities. It also performs random inspections and checks to evaluate safety issues and child-to-day-care-worker rations. However, the large number of day cares in the State limits the number of these that can be done.
To make matters worse, day cares in Texas fall under different categories of regulation. Licensed Home Day Care facilities are less regulated than Registered Day Care facilities. Many of these are not even required to carry liability insurance to protect the children in the event the day care owner or its employees cause injury to a child.
The differences in regulation required for the various types of day care facilities make having an experienced day care injury lawyer critical when your child is injured while under a caregiver’s supervision. But long before you get to that point, when you sign up your child to be looked after by another, be sure to ask the important questions: Are you licensed with the state? Is it a full Registered Day Care Facility? Do you carry liability insurance to cover the children if an employee causes injury to them? Do you perform driver’s license and back ground checks on all employees including drivers?
The answers to the above questions should determine who you entrust your child’s safety to. Don’t just accept verbal answers, make them show you the documentation and proof of licensing and insurance.