Daycare providers and facilities are of enormous importance in the Grand Canyon State. They ensure the safety of Arizona's tiniest residents and allow countless Arizonan adults to go about their day-to-day routines and careers without having to manage hourly care for their children. Without reputable, safe, and reliable daycare facilities or providers, many Arizonan communities would change enormously.
Unfortunately, this importance does not mean that being a daycare provider or owning a facility is a seamless experience. The dedicated teams who run daycare facilities often have to navigate complex regulatory challenges that can interfere with their ability to operate. If you run a daycare facility or are a daycare provider and you realize that a license-related or regulatory obstacle may soon get in the way of your being able to support your community, the time to act is now. The Lento Law Firm Team is here to help you and your team overcome any legal or regulatory hurdles that may be in your way.
Whether you face an accusation due to a mistake or misunderstanding, false allegations of negligence, or genuine concerns, if you're under scrutiny or are at risk of losing your license, contact the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team without delay. Call 888.535.3686 today, or fill out this form to tell us about your case.
What Legal Powers Does the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) Have Over Daycare Facilities and Providers
One of the main regulatory bodies in Arizona that oversee how daycare facilities and providers run is the Arizona Department of Health Services, or the ADHS. Within the ADHS is an entire office, the Bureau of Child Care Licensing.
This office has a wide range of authority over daycare facilities and providers. For example, if the situation calls for it, the Bureau has the authority to:
- Assess minor infractions on the part of daycare facilities or providers and mandate warnings
- Impose fines, if those violations become more severe
- Recommend any corrective actions ostensibly needed for any apparent issues
- Place daycare providers or facilities on probation
- Determine the conditions a daycare provider or facility must meet in order to pursue reinstatement
- Suspend or revoke the license of a daycare facility or provider.
If any of these things happen to a daycare facility or provider, that can have an instant effect on the facility's entire community—as a large number of families may suddenly have to look elsewhere for childcare. Today, when daycare availability is far from certain, a sudden daycare closure could impact several families for a very long time, in far-reaching ways. If you're a provider for just one or two families, the impact may be lessened, but it isn't better: Your families will still have to make difficult decisions very quickly.
All of this could ruin your career as a daycare provider or the owner of a daycare facility. Even if you're able to get your license back, which isn't a given, you may find that word has spread throughout the childcare community that you are not reliable, or that the allegations that resulted in your loss of license have resulted in people not trusting you.
Don't let that happen to yourself, your staff, and your families. Instead, it's critical to take action to address even minor-seeming infractions as quickly as you can.
Regulatory Bodies and Groups Overseeing Arizonan Daycare Facilities and Providers
The Arizona Department of Health Services isn't the only governing body that daycare facilities and providers may need to answer to.
Depending on your location and the services you offer, you may be subject to regulations from:
The Arizona Department of Child Safety, an office that has the authority to intervene in cases where there are allegations of child abuse or neglect within a daycare setting;
Your local city or county health department may have additional safety or health regulations that your daycare facility will need to comply with, especially if you're providing meals to the children in your care and
The Arizona Department of Education may have additional rules you'll need to follow if your daycare offers any educational programs.
This is a lot of regulations to keep in mind, but you do it because you know it's worthwhile to provide such a valuable service to your community. You also realize the immense responsibility of keeping children safe. So does the state of Arizona, which is why every daycare facility owner or individual daycare provider needs to go through a lengthy application and licensing process before they're able to provide care. This process includes background checks, inspections, training, and fees. By the time a daycare provider is offering services, they've invested a significant amount of time and resources into being able to open their doors.
This makes it all the more devastating when a facility or provider loses their license.
What are the Reasons an Arizona Childcare Facility or Provider Might Lose Their License?
The various reasons the ADHS and the Bureau of Child Care Licensing might see fit to discipline childcare facilities and providers include:
- Lack of competence. If the childcare facility or provider is demonstrably incompetent, that could result in a suspension or revocation of a childcare license. Incompetence can be hard to define and may actually be purposely ambiguous.
- Unprofessional conduct. Examples of unprofessional conduct may include consistent tardiness, poor interactions with parents or children, and the failure to maintain a clean environment for children. However, like “incompetent”, “unprofessional” may be difficult to define and will likely depend on the particulars of your case.
- Misuse of substances. If there are allegations against a provider or facility owner that indicate a childcare professional could be administering said care while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, that could result in disciplinary action against their license.
- Misrepresentation or fraud. If a provider misrepresents their credentials or licensure, or is accused of fraud or deceit in other ways, that could result in severe sanctions.
- Care or safety violations. If someone alleges that you are not adhering properly to Arizona's mandated safety and care standards—e.g., providing proper supervision, following health guidelines, and maintaining adequate facilities—that could result in sanctions or disciplinary action.
- Criminal convictions. If a daycare facility operator or child care provider receives a criminal conviction, that could impact their license. This is especially the case if the conviction has something to do with child endangerment or abuse, but even if the conviction is wholly unrelated to your career, it's very possible that your career could suffer afterward.
If you are in a situation where you are facing allegations, accurate or otherwise, for any of the above or similar situations, you need to retain the representation of the Professional License Defense Team at once. The state of Arizona does not take child safety lightly, and being associated with any of the above allegations could result in permanent damage to your reputation much faster than you think.
What Are the Consequences for Daycare Facilities and Providers If They Face Discipline or Corrective Action?
Let's say you are facing allegations for the above or similar actions, and the state steps in to mandate corrective action or provide a temporary suspension of your license.
It could be tempting to write that off as growing pains or as a genuinely needed reroute for your business that doesn't necessarily have to impact your entire future.
Unfortunately, this is mostly wishful thinking. Any form of corrective action or discipline can have lasting implications for childcare facilities, no matter how minor it may seem.
Just some of the short- and long-term consequences associated with this type of disciplinary experience may include:
- Reputation damage. Parents want to take their children to a provider that has a reputation for being safe. And, of course, most parents research providers and facilities thoroughly before sending their child in for care. Even if you're able to regain your license after license suspension, the fact that an allegation is on your public record could make it very difficult for you to find clients in the future.
- Operational limitations. One of the corrective actions or disciplinary sanctions a childcare provider could experience is a mandate to restrict the number of children they're allowed to provide care for. This can tarnish a provider's reputation, impact their relationship with their families, and result in other hardships—including…
- Financial implications. Daycare facility operators are responsible for significant costs already, and if the state assesses any penalties or fines as a disciplinary sanction, that can strain a facility's resources significantly. This can also happen without direct assessment of fees, of course, If your enrollment goes down because of reputation damage or operational constraints, you could experience the same thing.
- Employment concerns. If you're an individual daycare provider, facing any of the above allegations could result in immediate termination. You may also have a difficult time getting work in the future with this on your record.
Since these and other consequences may be on the table after an alleged infraction, childcare facility operators and providers absolutely must address allegations and concerns promptly.
Arizona's Child Care Background Check System and Why It's Relevant for You
Arizona has a Child Care Background Check System that's in place to help ensure the well-being and safety of children in Arizonan daycare settings. This system is an accessible source for daycare provider licensing information. Potential employers and regulatory bodies can easily use this system to look up the current license status of providers, as well as any reported incidents against that provider.
This database is convenient and offers people using Arizona's childcare system a lot of peace of mind. On the other hand, if you're an individual Arizona daycare provider, it heightens the stakes associated with disciplinary events. If you net any disciplinary actions that make their way into this easily searchable system, your future employers and clients may be able to pull them up and learn about your alleged history very easily.
This may necessarily result in fewer employment opportunities or reduced client interest in your services. The information in this database is accessible throughout the state, so moving from Phoenix to Tucson won't make any difference.
What will make a difference? Retaining the premier services of the Professional License Defense Team. Our experienced attorneys can assess your situation, open up direct lines of negotiation, and help you move forward in a strategic way to protect your future.
What Is Arizona's Adjudication Process for Daycare Licensing Issues Like?
Your experience with your state's adjudication process will likely begin with a complaint and end with possible sanctions.
Here's a general overview of what the adjudication process could entail:
- Someone in your community will file a complaint against you or against your facility. There can be any number of occasions or reasons for a complaint: Often, they arise during routine inspections, but they may occur due to parent concerns or reports from staff members. The ADHS will review the complaint in a preliminary step to determine whether it seems worthy of further investigation.
- If the ADHS decides that it wants to know more, the Bureau of Child Care Licensing will launch a full investigation. Depending on the severity and nature of the allegation, this could be extremely involved. Sometimes, these investigations include interviews with staff, parents, and even children. You may even be subject to unannounced site visits.
- Again, depending on the nature of the alleged violations, the next step after the investigation may be an informal conference with the provider or facility owner to see if there is a simple way forward. At this informal conference, the provider may have a chance to clarify misunderstandings, provide further information, and propose potential resolutions. Sometimes, at this stage, the process can conclude without the need for severe consequences.
- If the allegations were more severe or there are other reasons to escalate the proceedings, the process may go straight to a more formal hearing in which the facility or provider will need to defend themselves against allegations much more rigorously. At the end of this formal hearing, the Bureau will issue a decision regarding your responsibility and recommend a sanction.
If you don't agree with the Bureau's decision, you do have the right to appeal. This will involve a considerable amount of detailed paperwork, more tense hearings, and you'll need to come up with at least one more solid argument in your defense. You'll also likely need to complete all of that within just a few business days.
Are There Separate Rules for Facilities and Individual Providers That Apply?
If you're a facility owner, you may be required to meet different regulations than individual daycare providers.
Here's a quick rundown of the different guidelines and rules that apply to Arizona childcare facility operators and individual daycare providers.
- Maintain ideal staff-to-child ratios. Depending on the age of the children in care, Arizona mandates specific staff-to-child ratios. Usually, the ratio is more stringent—e.g., fewer children to staff—when the children are younger. The goal is to help ensure that young children are able to receive the attention and care they deserve.
- Comply with safety inspections. Daycare facilities in Arizona are subject to safety inspections by the Bureau of Child Care Licensing. The goal of these inspections is to ensure that the facility meets all welfare, safety, and health standards.
- Ensure care and curriculum standards. If your daycare facility provides any type of formation or education services at all, you need to ensure that your curriculum or program is approved and will result in cognitive, emotional, and physical support for children as they develop and grow.
- Perform meticulous record-keeping. Daycare facilities in Arizona are required to maintain accurate records relating to the way their facility operates, including daily attendance, incident and injury reports, and staff training records. What's more, facilities must ensure that these records are available for review if the state wishes to inspect them.
Individual providers must…
- Undergo comprehensive background checks and training. If you provide daycare in Arizona, you'll need to submit to a background check (including fingerprinting!) and pursue ongoing education to prove that you're up-to-date with the latest regulations and best childcare practices.
- Comply with mandatory incident reporting. If you're an Arizonan daycare provider, you're a mandated reporter. This means that if you observe any incidents, injuries, or anything similarly concerning regarding the health of the children in your care, you need to tell someone. In this case, that might be your facility manager or the Bureau of Child Care Licensing.
- Provide a professional standard of care. As you are discharging your duties, you'll need to work hard to ensure the safety, well-being, and the holistic development of the children you're caring for. If anyone can allege otherwise, you may be subject to disciplinary action.
Whether you're a facility operator or an individual provider, if you're at the center of an investigation regarding your services or your competency, you need to act quickly. Don't wait until your reputation has been damaged or you're losing clients to protect yourself. Instead, retain the services of the Lento Law Firm Team at once.
Why Choose the Lento Law Firm Team in Arizona
Whether you live anywhere in the nation or in Arizona, the Lento Law Firm Team is well-poised to help you pursue the strong defense and successful outcome you deserve.
We're proud to offer you:
- Proven experience in license defense. We're well-versed in Arizona's relevant daycare licensing regulations and are ready to help you navigate the complexities of the system with confidence.
- Proactive defense strategies. We believe in making sure that you're prepared for whatever may lay ahead, so we'll work with you to ensure your defense strategy is strong enough to give you peace of mind.
- Negotiation skills. While we're ready to take any aggressive legal action necessary to pursue success for you, we know that often, maintaining open lines of communication with the Bureau of Child Care Licensing and supporting strategic negotiations gets results, too. We'll assess your situation and help you take the best possible actions to support your case.
- Dedicated support. We know that being investigated for something so near and dear to your identity can be extremely stressful. Our goal is to take as much of the logistics of your case off your shoulders as possible so you can spend time resting with those you love.
If your professional reputation or daycare facility is on the line, you can't wait for the repercussions to come rolling in. You need to retain the services of the experienced attorneys of the Lento Law Firm at once so we can help you manage your investigation, hearings, defense, and any necessary appeals from the very beginning. Our team will take the time to understand your concerns, determine the regulations most pertinent to your precise situation, get to know the key players in your case, and more so we can step in and provide critical, game-changing support.
The Lento Law Firm Team is Ready to Advocate for Your Childcare License
Daycare facilities are already under enough pressure before they're suddenly targeted by allegations of misconduct. The same goes for individual daycare providers. If you learn that someone in your community, whether it be a colleague, a client, or an auditor, has filed a complaint about you, it might feel like it's just too much to deal with.
Don't ignore the challenge or hope it will go away. Instead, take proactive steps to protect your name, reputation, and future. The Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm is prepared to start advocating for you at once. We'll use every resource at our disposal to help you achieve your optimal outcome. Call us today at 888.535.3686, or alternatively, fill out this brief form to tell us about your case.