One of our local television stations, WFTV Channel 9, has recently run a series of reports that interest me both as a Florida child sexual abuse attorney, as well as a concerned parent.
The stories concern a current policy of the Florida Department of Children and Families to allow convicted felons to work at Orlando-area daycares. Apparently, DCF has the ability to grant exemptions, or second chances, to certain individuals in order to let them work with children. For felons who are granted exemptions, there is no requirement that their daycare employers inform parents or families that their children are being cared for by convicted criminals.
One of the daycare workers profiled by Channel 9 had been arrested five times over the last twelve years on charges ranging from disorderly conduct to two grand thefts. DCF officials insist that they are doing the right thing by giving these felons a “second chance.”
Personally, I am also a big fan of second chances. I know that nobody is perfect and that people make mistakes. As a parent, however, I’m not sure that I want to put my child at risk if somebody’s “second chance” doesn’t work out. I also think that there are better places to do “second chances” than in daycares. After all, shouldn’t daycares be seeking to influence little kids with positive role models?
As an attorney who handles Florida child sex abuse cases, I wonder why these daycares would want to take on the additional liability that these convicted felons would seem to bring to a daycare business. After all, if one of these exempted felons injures a child, the daycare cannot argue that they did not know that the worker had a negative history. In fact, the daycare might be exposed to liability under an additional cause of action for actively placing the child with a dangerous person.
I think it would be a great idea if DCF would require some kind of additional liability insurance, or at least to verify credible insurance coverage, for any daycare that decided to hire one of these convicted felons. If these daycares are going to insist on hiring criminals, they should at least prove their ability to pay damages if one of those convicts causes harm to a child.
If you have any questions regarding a Florida child sexual abuse case, call Winter Park personal injury attorneys Kim Cullen and Robert Hemphill at 407-644-4444.