Maryland daycare providers, take a moment to imagine the catastrophe that would befall you if you lost your license.
Immediately, you wouldn't be able to work. Overnight, all of your clients would have to find alternative care. (And you know that in today's frenetic daycare market, they wouldn't be able to find the solutions they need—which could result in your clients needing to make really tough employment decisions.) In the meantime, you'd suddenly be bleeding money. Your reputation would be tarnished, if not totally destroyed. And at the center of all this chaos would be you, stressed about your future, wondering what happened—and if there was anything you could have done to stop it.
Perhaps we've just painted an overly morbid picture, but it's key to realize that losing your license as a Maryland daycare professional is easier than you think. Just about anyone can file an allegation against you to your state's regulatory boards, and if this happens, your state's relevant authorities could investigate you, audit your facility, and make your life extremely difficult for a long time. They could even decide to permanently revoke your license, which would make practicing as a child care professional at any time in the future difficult or impossible.
Your best bet is to make sure that doesn't happen in the first place. If you believe that disciplinary processes against you or your license could be in your future as a Maryland child care provider, the time to act is now. Retain the services of the Professional License Defense Team to take the most strategic steps possible toward your ideal outcome.
What Government Groups Oversee Daycare Providers in Maryland?
Your immediate questions are likely simple (but important!) ones. For example, if someone's going to be taking away your license, who is that—and what type of authority does that person or entity actually have?
When you first went through the licensing process to become a daycare provider or facility operator in Maryland, you likely had to speak with the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and its Division of Early Childhood Development (DECD). The DECD is primarily in charge of overseeing and enforcing safety and quality standards for childcare centers. They do so for a very good reason: Maryland takes the health and safety of its youngest inhabitants very seriously. If a child is enrolled in a daycare center, the state wants to be sure that that child is set to have a good experience—and, if anything does go poorly, that the state is poised to help that child get safe and thrive in a timely manner.
That's a lofty goal. To help the state meet that goal, the DECD spends its time:
- Conducting investigations and inspections of child care facilities
- Noting any non-compliance uncovered and issuing citations and warnings as needed
- Imposing and collecting fines for aforementioned violations
- Mandating corrective measures for childcare providers to rectify any issues that the DECD has identified
- Implementing and overseeing any probationary periods the state deems necessary
- Taking disciplinary actions against a child care professional's license if the state similarly deems that necessary
As we mentioned above, being associated with even seemingly slight disciplinary actions can result in a bad experience for you. Even if your license isn't revoked, the damage associated with disciplinary infractions can cause your clients to look elsewhere or reduce your chances of being able to get a good job in child care later on in your life.
Are There Other Governing Bodies to Be Aware Of as a Maryland Child Care Provider?
The DECD isn't the only group that may get involved when you have a disciplinary experience as a Maryland child care provider. Depending on the nature of the services you offer and the details of your specific case, you may interact with any of these other government groups as well:
- The Maryland Department of Human Services, Child Protective Services (CPS). CPS may get involved if there are any allegations circling you or your practice that indicate there may be neglect or abuse linked to your staff or facility.
- The Maryland Department of Health (MDH). This group will likely only want to learn more if you or your facility is responsible for food service. If you are, then you'll need to comply with all relevant health and safety standards—and if you aren't compliant, the MDH will investigate and provide sanctions or recommendations for sanctions.
- Your local county health department. So far, we've been discussing the oversight you may be subject to at the state level, but depending on where you live, your local health department may have additional regulations and inspection protocols to be aware of.
- The Office of Child Care. The OCC is a branch that operates within the DECD that is specifically responsible for monitoring and licensing child care centers to ensure they're in compliance with state regulations.
- The Maryland Department of Education's Office of Child Care Regional Licensing Offices. This department, much like the Department of Health, will likely prioritize involvement if your facility offers anything that resembles an educational plan. If you do, you'll need to make sure that the curriculum you follow is up-to-date and compliant with the state's educational standards.
This is a lot of agencies to keep track of, and it's very likely that you won't interact with all of them as you go through your disciplinary experience. But it's a good idea to be aware of who could be involved, as this might help you mitigate overwhelm and prepare a little better to mount the strongest case possible for your optimal outcome.
The Licensing Process for Maryland Child Care Providers
When you first became a child care provider in Maryland, you likely had to go through a lengthy process to achieve your license.
If you lose your license now, you may have to go through that entire process all over again to be able to practice. (And that's assuming you're successful and you do get your license back at the end of the re-application process.)
Here's a general overview of what you can expect if you need to repeat your application process to regain your Maryland child care license:
- You'll need to re-submit your initial application. You cannot expect that the state will remember any of your information. Instead, you'll start fresh. This will involve filling out extensive amounts of paperwork. You'll need to detail information about your team. You'll need to provide your plans for your practice's future. This will be work-intensive, and it will take a long time to complete.
- You'll need to comply with any background checks that the state deems mandatory. Maryland does require comprehensive background checks for all staff working in childcare. This is just to make sure that everyone involved in your operations is fit to work with children.
- You'll need to comply with and pass any on-site inspections that Maryland's various relevant government bodies believe are necessary to ensure your space meets applicable operational, safety, and health standards.
- You'll need to ensure that you and your staff meet all required initial training expectations. At the same time, to get your license, you'll need to show your plans to ensure that your staff has access to ongoing education so they'll remain qualified in such key areas as child development, CPR, and first aid.
- You'll need to pay all applicable fees, which may be hefty. These fees are intended to cover the cost of processing your application and other administrative expenses. If you are asked to re-apply, you will be responsible for these fees again.
This entire process is not fast. You'll have to put your entire business and, likely, your personal life on hold to get it done. And you'll be paying for your re-application out of pocket at a time when you won't be collecting regular income. Unless you're very lucky, this might not be a feasible option for you to pursue.
The Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm can help you take proactive measures to prevent the risk of license revocation in the first place. If you have any concerns that your license could be on the line in an upcoming disciplinary experience, reach out to our team. We can help you work towards an outcome where you're able to continue providing your valuable services to your community with as little cost to you, your reputation, and your wallet as possible.
What Types of Actions Could Result in My Losing My Maryland Child Care License?
After all of the above, you might be wondering:
What types of allegations could possibly result in the processes we've detailed? As we've mentioned, Maryland takes child safety very seriously. If any of the boards we've talked about receives an allegation or complaint that makes it seem like a child could be in danger, the state will likely jump into action—and, since child safety is so important, the state will be willing to mete out severe sanctions relatively quickly.
That's why retaining our Professional License Defense Team as early on in the process as possible is a good idea. From the very first communication you have with your accuser and the relevant regulatory board, we can help you keep your rights protected and the disciplinary repercussions as minimal as possible.
In our years of experience helping Maryland childcare providers work through disciplinary experiences, we've found that the most common allegations tend to concern:
- Insufficient qualifications or failure to meet the educational and training requirements for child care provision.
- Unprofessional or unethical behavior by any team member.
- Substance abuse by staff within the daycare environment.
- Fraudulent activities or misrepresentation of credentials and qualifications.
- Violations of Maryland's child care safety regulations.
- Non-compliance with established standards of care.
- Criminal charges or convictions among staff members, particularly those involving violence or endangerment.
Here's the thing: While some allegations may seem to be clearly more serious than others, any allegation could result in a full investigation and disciplinary ramifications. Any complaint that the DECD decides to learn more about could end up in long-term damage to your career, even if it seems relatively trivial to you.
The Maryland Investigation Process: What Happens After The Initial Complaint?
After the DECD learns that you may be involved in a potential violation due to a complaint, it will first take some time to review the initial information provided. The DECD does not have the resources to investigate every single complaint that goes its way, of course—so it will perform a preliminary review to determine whether the complaint is worth the group's time.
If the DECD decides to proceed, the following things may happen:
- You'll receive a notification about your upcoming investigation. This notification should include details about the allegations against you, with references to any specific regulations or codes that you may have violated.
- The DECD will conduct its investigation. This will not be pleasant. Depending on the nature of the allegations against you, this could include an inspection of your facility, an audit of all your paperwork, interviews with your team, interviews with your client, and other intrusive actions. If you have already retained the Lento Law Firm Team at this point, we can help you manage these activities to help minimize their effect on your team and prevent the DECD from overstepping any boundaries.
- Once the DECD feels that it has all the information it needs to make a decision, it will schedule a hearing with you. Again, depending on the severity of the allegations at hand, this could range from an informal meeting between yourself and a representative of the DECD to a full-scale formal hearing, during which you'll need to present your case before a panel of interested parties. This hearing may also include an examination of evidence, as well as cross-examination of any relevant witnesses.
- After the hearing is over, the DECD will review the information and your argument before coming to a decision about your responsibility for the allegations against you. You will receive a notification about this decision, as well as any recommendations that the DECD has for the consequences you'll need to undergo.
When you get this information, you'll have a decision to make. (We'll be there to help.) Do you agree with the DECD's assessment of your case? Or do you think that you shouldn't have to deal with a license revocation or hefty fine based on the evidence discussed in the hearing?
If you don't want to weather a license revocation, you may be able to file an appeal to negotiate down to a lesser sanction.
The DECD Appeals Process in Maryland
If you're ready to file a strategic appeal, your first step will be to figure out a good angle to pursue. Preferably, you'll have new information to share and a new argument in place to provide an update after your hearing. The problem is you only have a few days to get your appeal paperwork filed, which means that once you decide to appeal, you have a lot of work to do fast.
Our team can help you:
- Figure out if you're ready for an appeal
- Find the best possible basis for a strong appeal
- Perform an efficient investigation to find compelling evidence for your new arguments
- Draft persuasive arguments
- File your appeal correctly and on time
- Negotiate with involved parties to help you reach your preferred outcome
If, after you've filed a high-quality appeal, you still find yourself in need of further assistance, we'll be there to help. Our team can help you pursue further negotiations, consider legal action, and more to support the best possible outcome.
Does Maryland Keep a Record of Disciplinary Actions Against Child Care Providers?
Yes, it does! If you end up experiencing disciplinary actions as a result of the allegations against you, you need to know that it won't be a secret. Even if you're able to tamp down the news about your sanctions at the time, and even if you're able to help your clients find alternate care and otherwise manage the fallout as well as you can, there's another way for prospective employers to find out about what happened.
Maryland has a system in place for recording and retaining information about disciplinary actions taken against child care providers. It's owned by the Maryland State Department of Education, and it represents part of the state's initiative to keep children safe. If a person is in the database, people who are hiring for child care roles can know to avoid (or carefully consider) hiring them to help avoid any future child abuse or neglect by child care providers.
This is clearly a good thing—unless, of course, you're in the registry and you don't think you should be. Anyone with access to this registry will be able to tell that you were associated with your allegations, which can make your future much more difficult than it needs to be.
Are There Specific Regulations Maryland Daycare Providers Must Adhere To?
To avoid the consequences associated with disciplinary actions inflicted upon a Maryland daycare provider, it's a good idea to follow the state's rules as much as possible. This may be easier said than done, but a good start is being aware of these rules.
Some of the most important rules that Maryland daycare providers, whether they're facility operators or independent providers, need to follow include:
- Maintaining optimal staff-to-child ratios. Taking care of groups of children effectively requires time and focus. To help ensure that childcare providers aren't taking on more work than they can complete, the state maintains required staff-to-child ratios. Typically, the specific ratio you'll need to target depends on how old the children are that you'll be caring for.
- Passing safety inspections. On some recurring basis, the state will require that your facility get inspected and that you don't have any violations that could impact child health or safety.
- Meeting all educational standards. If your facility offers any type of education, you'll need to make sure it adheres to state-approved curricula.
- Maintaining superior food-related safety. If your facility provides any meals or snacks to your children, you'll need to make sure that any food preparation spaces and processes pass all health and safety inspections.
- Maintaining detailed records. You'll need to make sure that you keep meticulous staff training logs, attendance records, and injury or incident reports.
- Complying with background checks. You and your team will all need to undergo and pass background checks to facilitate the licensing process.
- Providing ongoing training. You're going to have to meet all training requirements in areas relevant to child care, such as first aid and child development, and if you have a team, you'll need to make sure they meet these training requirements, too.
- Comply with mandated reporting. If you, as an individual provider or anyone on your team, have suspicions or evidence of child welfare concerns, you'll need to report it to the authorities immediately.
However, as we've outlined above, toeing the line of these and similar rules may not be enough. Anyone can lodge a complaint against you for nearly any reason. And, when this happens, you're going to need seasoned professionals to help you avoid life-long consequences. If you're in a situation where your Maryland child care license is in jeopardy, retain the services of the premier Professional License Defense Team at once. Our team is ready to help you protect your name and your future, and we're able to begin at once. Call the Lento Law Firm Team today at 888.535.3686. Alternatively, fill out this form, and we'll be in touch shortly to learn more about you and your case.