Bright from the Start Is Not Enough to Protect Georgia’s Children from Daycare Negligence

Ever since 2004, Bright from the Start has been the agency in charge of quality control for Georgia’s daycare and early education facilities. Among its other duties, Bright from the Start is responsible for approving licenses for Georgia’s daycare centers. Unfortunately, while the agency provides valuable support at times, it falls far short of guaranteeing Georgia’s children a safe environment, let alone a nurturing one.

Finding Quality Child Care in Georgia Has Always Been Difficult

For the average Georgia family, child care costs more than either housing or college tuition. Yet most of these exorbitant fees go toward care that Bright from the Start itself recognizes as “deficient” and “inadequate.”

In 2009, a national study ranked Georgia’s quality of child care 49th out of all 50 states. The next year, Bright from the Start commissioned a statewide study, which found that only 5% of children in Georgia’s preschools and daycare centers were receiving what could be called “high quality care.” Quality ratings were determined according to several factors, but many lower quality facilities were found to have dangerous playground conditions and other safety hazards.

The purpose of Bright from the Start’s study was to identify opportunities for improvement, but a decade later, another survey has ranked Georgia’s child care and early education in the country’s bottom 10 yet again — at #46, to be precise.

Bright from the Start’s Efforts Are Often Too Little Too Late

When Bright from the Start steps in to correct unacceptable conditions, it’s typically because things have gotten bad enough for a parent or other whistleblower to request help. At this point, children have already been exposed to potentially irreparable harm.

In the spring of 2018, children attending a Roswell preschool began reporting physical abuse by their teachers. After the school allegedly ignored parents’ concerns, one father responded by hiding a recording device in his son’s classroom, which captured teachers mocking a crying child and ordering other children to tackle him. One teacher seems to admit on the recording to having hit students in the past. When confronted with this evidence, the school voluntarily involved Bright from the Start, which imposed a fine of just $299 for the verbal abuse and did not bring any criminal charges.

A month later, a 2-year-old wandered off from a Sandy Springs daycare center, prompting another investigation. His mother says staff were unaware he’d ever been there when she came to pick him up. The month after that, parents reported a rodent infestation at the Augusta University Child Care Center, after at least one child became sick. Bright from the Start’s investigation revealed months’ worth of unanswered internal emails from daycare workers expressing concern that the rats, whose droppings had been found among the children’s toys, posed a health hazard.

Civil Law Can Help Close the Accountability Gap

The ineffectiveness of Bright from the Start changes nothing about the responsibility daycare centers and preschools have to provide a safe, healthy space for children. Where government oversight falls short, litigation can enforce accountability, provide compensation to victims, and serve as a warning to other neglectful facilities. If your child has been harmed by a daycare provider’s negligence, call The Stoddard Firm right away.

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