Protecting Your Child Care Certification
Providing child care is a gift to our communities. When parents know their children are well looked after, they can pursue their dreams. They can work, finish their degree, or volunteer. They can change their lives and, consequently, their families and greater society prosper. That kind of support all starts with licensed childcare facilities and licensed childcare teachers.
If you have received notice that your license is at risk, it's important you approach any investigation or disciplinary action with your best foot forward. What you do in response matters – and matters a great deal. When you have strong representation in your corner, you can better protect your license – and your future. The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team is here to help you through each and every step. Call the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3685 or visit their website online to discuss your case. It's the first step in retaining the experienced legal counsel you need to protect your early childhood development facility or teaching license – as well as your future livelihood.
As someone who is licensed to provide child care – as a facility or a teacher – in the District of Columbia, you know all too well the many rewards that come from caring for children. You provide a valuable foundation for the kids who come to you each day – helping them learn, socialize, grow, and reach their full potential.
You also know that providing child care comes with a host of challenges. Costs continue to rise. It can be difficult to retain qualified, caring staff. And parents, at times, can be challenging. There are a host of evolving regulations that must be met. It can sometimes be a difficult job – but as anyone who has made a difference in a child's life knows, it's absolutely worthwhile. Unfortunately, the many challenges involved in modern child care can lead to misunderstandings and other situations that can threaten facility or teacher licenses.
To license a child development center or family care home in the District of Columbia requires hard work. You must provide your qualifications. You must get your facility up to code. You must comply with the many rules and regulations provided by the District's Office of the State Superintendent of Education. If you've been notified that you are facing an allegation of misconduct, negligence, or other issue that threatens your license, there is no time to wait. Your license and ability to continue to provide care to children – and support the families who rely on you so they can work and study – is at risk. It is imperative that you act so that you can protect your career, your business, and your ability to continue supporting your community in this vital role.
If you have learned that you are the subject of an early learning complaint or unusual incident report through the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, it is important to craft the right response. While your first reaction to the notification may be anger, frustration, or even ambivalence, you cannot risk ignoring the complaint or responding in an emotional manner. Handling the investigation yourself is also a bad idea. Despite the fact that any allegation you may be facing may be the byproduct of a misunderstanding, a difficult parent, or some issue beyond your control, it is vital that you proceed with caution. You've likely given your blood, sweat, and tears to build your childcare business – or give your all each day in the early learning classroom. As such, you should not face this challenge alone. If you are facing an early learning complaint or unusual incident report, you deserve to have strong, experienced representation to advise and support you throughout the investigation and decision processes. They can help ensure the best possible outcome for you – and your childcare facility.
The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team is here to help, whether you are the proprietor of a childcare facility or an early learning educator in the District of Columbia. They have the experience, skills, and support to help you through each step of the investigatory and disciplinary process. The Lento Law Firm has represented childcare facilities and teachers across the District. They will work their hardest to ensure your case comes to the most favorable outcome – so you can continue to care for your kids and support your community.
The Need for a License
The Office of the State Superintendent of Education in the District of Columbia understands that you are more than just a mere babysitter. But to receive licensing as a child care program, you must meet important child care requirements. The Office of the State Superintendent of Education takes licensing seriously. They want to see that every facility meets the minimum standards of care in terms of:
- Ownership, organization, and administration of the facility;
- Supervision of children;
- Condition of equipment and materials, ranging from cribs to toys;
- Discipline of children;
- Appropriate child/staff ratios;
- Adequate environments both in and out of doors;
- Appropriate staff qualification and continued training and development;
- Criminal background checks;
- Food served to children.
Getting your license in the District of Columbia takes time, effort, and careful planning. Given what it takes to achieve licensing, it is vital that you do not put your license at risk.
District of Columbia Requirements and Monitoring
The District of Columbia's Office of the State Superintendent of Education has a strict childcare provider monitoring and inspection process. The Office will send a licensing specialist to each facility twice each year – one announced visit and one unannounced visit. During each visit, that specialist will fully inspect the childcare facility to ensure:
- Enough age-appropriate supplies and equipment for the children at the facility;
- Ample storage space;
- Coverage of electrical outlets and other safety requirements are met;
- Cleaning supplies and other dangerous items are out of children's reach;
- Hand washing procedure is posted for all employees;
- All other regulations are met.
The Office of the State Superintendent of Education also reviews each childcare facility to make sure that employees are adhering to the District's Early Learning standards, standards that were designed to align with the Head Start Program's Early Learning Outcomes Framework. There are specific indicators for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers – and it is expected that each childcare facility will be intentionally guiding children's learning and development to help ready them for school. There are seven guiding principles for childcare staff, including:
- With the appropriate support, all children can be successful learners;
- Learning occurs within the context of relationships – and childcare facilities should provide teachers and staff who are responsive and supportive;
- Families must be respected and supported as the primary influence in early learning and education;
- Children learn best when they feel safe and secure – childcare facilities should create nurturing environments where children feel valued;
- Areas of development are integrated, and children may learn concepts and skills at the same time;
- Teaching should be intentional and focused, based on how children learn and grow;
- And every childcare facility should welcome children from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds – and know that effective teaching practices build on those unique backgrounds.
Filing a Complaint Against a District of Columbia Child Care Facility
If a parent or other individual believes that a child care facility or family care home is not meeting safety regulations – or is not meeting the District of Columbia's early learning standards – they may make a complaint. They can call the Complaint and Unusual Incidents Hotline or, alternatively, send an email directly to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education.
Anyone can make a complaint – and D.C.'s Office of the State Superintendent of Education takes each one seriously. They will then conduct an investigation into the matter, likely sending a licensing official to the facility to better understand the situation.
If the resulting investigation finds evidence to support the complaint, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education may decide to suspend or revoke the facility's license.
This is yet another reason why, if you own a childcare facility in the District of Columbia – or simply work at one as an early development educator – it is imperative that you respond to any complaint directly. Engage the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team to help you mount an effective defense so that you can protect your license.
Understanding Background Checks
The District of Columbia requires that all childcare facility employees undergo a background check. Federal law requires that anyone who works in a childcare program must undergo this check. Each check includes research of the National Crime Information Center, National Sex Offender Registry, and the Child Protection Register run by the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency.
Each early learning provider must provide a fingerprint as part of the background check. There is a specific process that each person who works for a childcare facility must follow.
If an applicant fails the background check, it is usually for one of the following reasons:
- Refusal to submit to a background check;
- Name appearing on the state or National Sex Offender Registry;
- Name appearing in the state child protection registry;
- Conviction of one of the following criminal offenses:
- Child abuse or neglect;
- Any crime against children, including child pornography;
- Spousal abuse or domestic violence;
- Rape or sexual assault;
- Physical assault;
- Or any drug-related offense during the last five years.
If any employee fails the background check, they are not permitted to work in an early learning program. Facilities that employ people without a background check may also be putting their license at risk.
If you or one of your program's employees have failed a background check, it is important to respond appropriately. While there may be a good reason for any oversight regarding background checks, trying to reason with the Office of the State Superintendent of Education is not in your best interest. While there may be some misunderstanding at play, you don't want any response to backfire. You want to gather and present the appropriate evidence to show why your employee should not have failed to pass a background check – or why you were unaware of any issues. The onus is on you to explain any mitigating circumstances in the proper forum. That will help you protect your childcare facility license.
Here again, the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team can help you. They can help you manage any issues with the background check process – and craft the appropriate written responses if one of your employees fails that check. You and your childcare facility both benefit when you have an experienced team to help you address any complaints – or answer questions. The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team can help you understand your rights and advise you on your options. The Lento Law Firm has the experience to fight for you and your facility – and help you reach the best outcome in the face of any complaints or issues.
Retaining Strong Support During Any Investigation
The District of Columbia's Office of the State Superintendent of Education has jurisdiction to review, monitor, and investigate any issues in childcare facilities in the district. Any individual – parent, colleague, competitor, or any other interested individual – can make a complaint. They will have to provide evidence to support an investigation – but if that complaint is found credible, your child care facility, or the teachers within it, could be subject to license suspension or revocation.
During the investigatory process, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education may request documents, written statements, interviews, or facility visits to collect the appropriate evidence. It is likely they will speak with your employees, parents, and any other relevant parties. It is important to understand that investigations take time. You want them to – more thorough investigations will get to the right outcomes. But during the months, or even years, that an investigation is ongoing, it is important to know how, where, when, and why to provide information to the investigators to support your defense. You want to be sure that you, or anyone in your employ, are ready, willing, or able to respond to any interviews with thoughtful and accurate responses.
Certainly, you and your employees have due process during any investigation of a complaint. However, it is important to understand that the policies and procedures of the District of Columbia's Office of the State Superintendent of Education may not work in the same way as a civil court. What you've seen in your favorite law drama simply may not apply here. The Office of the State Superintendent of Education has its own rules and regulations – and its own way of investigating complaints. This is yet another reason why it is so important to have a team of trusted advisors working for you. The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team can walk you through the process – and understand where you can best provide evidence in your defense.
If you receive notice of a complaint against your child care facility, or one of your employees, the time to act is now. Contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3685 or go online to discuss your case – and gather the necessary information to help the Office of the State Superintendent of Education understand what's really behind a particular complaint – and how to defend yourself against it.
Your Best Offense is a Good Defense
If you have been notified that the District of Columbia's Office of the State Superintendent of Education is investigating your childcare facility – or one of your teachers or employees – for a facility or program violation, it's only natural that you might feel scared, angry, frustrated, or even just confused. But letting your emotions drive your response is not in your best interest.
It's possible that a complaint may be the result of a misunderstanding. It may be due to a parent who is unhappy with certain regulations. Or it may be because of employee behavior that you were unaware of. There's no doubt that the Office of the State Superintendent of Education will review every complaint it receives about any licensed childcare facility in the district. They will make sure to give each one the attention it deserves. But they will also offer you the opportunity to respond. This is important. Because if you can provide the appropriate information right away to explain the complaint, it may be dismissed outright. This is a best-case scenario – and one that does not put your license at risk.
You didn't decide on a career in child care services for the money. You certainly didn't do it for the accolades either. The majority of childcare facility operators and teachers within the District of Columbia pursued this career path to help their communities: to provide the highest quality care to children in the area so their families can work, study, and grow. They give their all each and every day to help their community's children better reach their full potential – and be ready for school.
While the District of Columbia's Office of the State Superintendent of Education knows that operators and employees mean well, they are still required to investigate every complaint. When you can easily provide evidence that gives proper context to a particular event, you can clear up any misunderstandings and protect your childcare facility license. Even if the complaint is based on facts, you can also help provide any mitigating evidence so you can resolve the matter in a way that protects your license – and your ability to provide care to your community's children. The Lento Law Firm's skilled Professional License Defense Team is here to advise you, no matter the circumstances. They can guide you as you seek to resolve any complaint – helping you to collect the right evidence and present the right information to help the Office of the State Superintendent of Education understand what really went on – and why you should retain your license.
Protect Your Certification – and Your Livelihood
Attaining your license as a professional childcare facility in the District of Columbia takes time and effort. By receiving that license, you show your community that you have the knowledge, experience, and skills to care for the children of your community. You show your community that you are there to help children reach their full potential before they enter the kindergarten classroom.
You've taken the time to get your early childhood development education. You have prepared your facility to meet all necessary safety regulations. You've gained the experience required to support young children as they grow and learn. If your child care facility certification is under threat after a complaint – or one of your employees is under investigation – you have options. But it is imperative that you respond to the matter with care and thoughtfulness. The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team is ready to fight for you and your staff. They have experience within the District – and innately understand the policies, procedures, and regulations that govern the District's Office of the State Superintendent of Education. They can help you understand the ins and outs of all regulations and policies – and stand ready to advise you so you can get to the best possible outcome, regardless of what allegations may have been made against your facility or your staff.
When you put your trust in the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team, you can rest assured that you are doing all you can to protect your childcare facility license – and your future ability to help support the families in your community. Call (888) 535-3685 or reach out to us online today to discuss your case – and figure out the next steps to resolve it.