We Defend Illinois Day Care Center Licenses
Illinois, like other states, is in need of qualified day care providers. Illinois also has the substantial population and robust economy to support day care homes and day care centers. The Illinois Department of Child & Family Services licenses approximately three-thousand day care providers operating within the state under complex and lengthy sets of laws, rules, and regulations. You know the challenges you faced in gaining your Illinois day care provider license. You must maintain your license to continue to provide day care in Illinois. The Illinois Department of Child & Family Services suspends and revokes the licenses of many day care providers.
You must have many questions about professional license disciplinary proceedings if you have received a notice of investigation or disciplinary charge from the Illinois Department of Child & Family Services. For your best outcome to such a charge, you need skilled and experienced defense. The Lento Law Firm's premier Professional License Defense Team is available for your defense in Chicago, Aurora, Joliet, Naperville, Rockford, Springfield, Elgin, Peoria, Champaign, Waukegan, Cicero, or any other Illinois city or town where you may operate your day care facility. Call 888.535.3686 or complete this contact form now for Illinois professional disciplinary license defense.
Types of Illinois Day Care Providers
The Illinois Department of Child & Family Services licenses several types of day care facilities under the authority of the Illinois Child Care Act. The main three types include (1) a day care home, which is a family home caring for between three and twelve children for less than twenty-four hours per day; (2) a group day care home allowing up to sixteen rather than just twelve children, and (3) a day care center caring for more than eight children in a family home or more than three children in a facility other than a family home. The Illinois Child Care Act also licenses several other types of temporary, emergency, and transitional day care providers. The Illinois Child Care Act authorizes the Department of Child & Family Services to adopt regulations carrying out the licensing authority. The Illinois Child Care Act refers to facilities as child care providers, while the Department regulations refer to facilities as day care providers. This discussion adopts the latter day care designation because that's the designation used in the detailed regulations on which disciplinary officials rely.
Illinois Day Care Provider Licensure
Illinois's legislature long ago provided in Section 3 of its Child Care Act that every day care provider in the state must have a license: “No person, group of persons or corporation may operate or conduct any facility for child care, as defined in this Act, without a license or permit issued by the Department….” The Department of Child & Family Services is the agency with which you dealt when first obtaining your license. You now need to maintain that license in the face of the Department's notice of investigation or disciplinary charges. If you have just received the investigation notice, now is a good time to retain us so that we can help you prepare. You may be able to head off formal disciplinary charges. If you have already received the Department's notice of disciplinary charges, then retain us to help you answer, defend, and do your best to defeat those charges.
Early Childhood National Centers
Your Illinois Department of Child & Family Services day care license is a state license. It only authorizes you to operate in Illinois, not in other states. You might think that if you lose your Illinois day care license to disciplinary charges that, you could just get a license in another state to resume your day care practice. But, states generally require national background checks. Illinois, for instance, requires interstate checks of criminal history, abuse and neglect registries, and sex offender registries for licensees and their owners, managers, and employees. Illinois also participates in a fingerprint biometric impression system to prevent wrongdoers from avoiding detection by using aliases.
In short, licensing officials in other states may discover disciplinary and criminal records in Illinois, just as Illinois licensing officials would discover the same records in other states. A child welfare advocacy organization, the Early Childhood National Centers promotes these interstate child care background checks. Don't let discipline in Illinois follow you to other states. Let us help you defend your disciplinary charges in Illinois now rather than have them affect you later elsewhere.
Illinois Day Care Provider Licensing Authority
Section 3(c) of the Illinois Child Care Act authorizes the Illinois Department of Child & Family Services to coordinate the licensing of day care providers in the state: “The Director of the Department shall establish policies and coordinate activities relating to child care licensing, licensing of day care homes and day care centers.” The Department carries out much of that licensing authority in three lengthy administrative rules. Rule 406 governs Department licensure of day care homes. Rule 408 governs Department licensure of group day care homes. And Rule 407 governs Department licensure of day care centers. The following discussion focuses on those rules, especially Rule 406 for day care homes. You must deal with Department disciplinary officials under this licensing authority if you hope to avoid the suspension or revocation of your day care provider license. Get our help.
Illinois Day Care Provider Regulatory Authority
Illinois's Department of Child & Family Services employs and trains staff members to periodically inspect licensed day care providers. Several sections of the Illinois Child Care Act authorize Department inspections of day care providers. The Act's Section 5(h) specifically authorizes and requires annual licensing visits: “Day care centers, day care homes, and group day care homes shall be monitored at least annually by a licensing representative from the Department or the agency that recommended licensure.” The Act's Section 8 then authorizes the Department to revoke or refuse to renew the license of any day care provider who does not meet state standards: “The Department may revoke or refuse to renew the license of any child care facility or child welfare agency or refuse to issue full license to the holder of a permit should the licensee or holder of a permit” violate the listed standards. Don't doubt the Department's resources, commitment, and authority to discipline your day care provider license. Let us help you level the playing field.
Illinois Day Care Provider Disciplinary Actions
If you suffer Illinois Department of Child & Family Services discipline against your day care provider license, that discipline will likely be publicly available under Section 9.1c of the Illinois Child Care Act. That statute requires the Department to maintain a searchable database on its public website. The database must include not only the name and address of all licensed day care providers but also the day and nature of any license discipline, including license suspension or revocation. You cannot run from Department charges, and you cannot hide discipline that results. Your employees, parents, friends, family members, and licensing officials in other states may all find out about your license discipline. Better to let us help defend your charges now rather than to expect any confidentiality of adverse results.
Illinois Day Care Provider Disciplinary Sanctions
Section 8 of the Illinois Child Care Act only mentions license revocation or refusal to renew as sanctions for failure to comply with all licensing standards. Other sections of the Child Care Act, though, refer also to license suspension. Revocation generally means total and permanent loss. Suspension may mean that you could regain your license by satisfying terms or conditions for removing the suspension or by waiting out the suspension period. Two other Child Care Act sections, Sections 8.1 and 8.2, suggest broader Department authority to impose conditions that the licensee must satisfy before the Department issues the permanent license.
The latter authority of the Illinois Department of Child & Family Services licensing officials to impose conditions on your license may work in your favor. Our attorneys may be able to convince disciplinary officials to delay or forgo license suspension and revocation in favor of conditions that you could readily satisfy. You should much prefer such conditions over a suspension order that requires you to shut down your day care facility. Any disciplinary interruption in your day care services will alert parents to your discipline, likely causing substantial reputational and business loss. Let us help you negotiate and navigate achievable conditions instead of suffering a suspension or revocation sanction.
Grounds for Illinois Day Care Provider Discipline
Section 8 of the Illinois Child Care Act lists the grounds on which Department of Child & Family Services officials may suspend, revoke, or otherwise discipline your day care provider license. Our attorneys can help you evaluate whether the Department's investigation has discovered evidence establishing one of the statutory grounds for discipline. We may also be able to help you contest the Department's evidence and negotiate alternative relief short of license suspension or revocation. Consider the following grounds and how we may be able to help you defend those charges.
False Statements as Grounds for Illinois Day Care License Discipline
Section 8 of the Illinois Child Care Act includes as grounds for license discipline to “furnish or make any misleading or any false statement or report to the Department.” False statements or misleading omissions on an application to obtain or renew a day care provider license would be the prime example. Applicants may, for instance, conceal criminal convictions or license discipline in other states, hoping to gain a license the Department would not otherwise have issued. Defense of false statements charges may involve showing that your statements were accurate, that any misstatements were unknowing mistakes rather than deliberate falsehoods, and that any misstatements or omissions were not material to the Department's decision on the application.
Refusal to Report as Grounds for Illinois Day Care License Discipline
Section 8 of the Illinois Child Care Act includes as grounds for license discipline to “refuse to submit to the Department any reports or refuse to make available to the Department any records required by the Department in making investigation of the facility for licensing purposes.” An example would be a licensee's refusal to report a child's injury, the criminal conviction of an owner or employee, or other event that would trigger an investigation and might result in license discipline. Defending a refusal to report charge may involve showing that you were reasonably unaware of the need to report, that you submitted the report and that the charge is erroneous, or that your failure to submit the report had no bearing on discipline because the reportable condition did not endanger children.
Refusal to Permit Access as Grounds for Illinois Day Care License Discipline
Section 8 of the Illinois Child Care Act includes as grounds for license discipline to “fail or refuse to admit authorized representatives of the Department at any reasonable time for the purpose of investigation.” Department officials may schedule an annual visit or make an unannounced visit for investigation purposes. You have the general obligation to provide immediate access. However, Department officials demanding to inspect your facility should provide official identification. We may be able to help you defend a charge based on refusal to permit access on the grounds that officials did not present the required identification. Or we may be able to show that your employee who refused access was acting without knowledge or authority and that you would have permitted access. We may also be able to show that an immediate inspection would not have revealed any violation warranting discipline.
Unsafe or Unsanitary Conditions as Grounds for Discipline
Section 8 of the Illinois Child Care Act includes as grounds for license discipline to “fail to provide, maintain, equip and keep in safe and sanitary condition” your day care premises. Safety of any part of your premises could be an issue if your facility has wiring defects, lead paint, asbestos, stairways without handrails, decks or platforms without railings, and similar defects. Sanitation could be an issue in kitchens and bathrooms. Defending safety and sanitation charges may involve close inspection of the premises, documentation that the conditions were reasonably safe and sanitary, proof that you were reasonably unaware of any unsafe or unsanitary conditions despite reasonable inspection, proof that you promptly rectified any unsafe or unsanitary condition as soon as brought to your attention, and proof that no child suffered harm or faced substantial risk.
Unqualified Personnel as Grounds for Illinois Day Care License Discipline
Section 8 of the Illinois Child Care Act includes as grounds for license discipline to “fail to exercise reasonable care in the hiring, training and supervision of facility personnel.” Retaining unqualified personnel can be a substantial disciplinary risk. Qualified personnel are hard to find and retain. But, unqualified personnel may leave children at risk of harm. Defense of a charge having to do with unqualified personnel would depend on the nature of the unqualified employees' issues. Retaining individuals with criminal histories of violence or child abuse would be a serious wrong, while retaining individuals who have not yet completed CPR or other necessary training may be a wrong the day care provider can quickly remedy.
Substance Abuse as Grounds for Illinois Day Care License Discipline
Section 8 of the Illinois Child Care Act includes as grounds for license discipline the owner, an employee, or a person on the premises having a substance abuse disorder or alcohol or drug abuse problem. Persons caring for children or in the presence of children while intoxicated may exhibit dangerous emotional dyscontrol or may be unable to monitor conditions and supervise children adequately. Defense of such charges may involve showing that the person accused of the substance issue had no such issue, had a medication reaction or other temporary condition mistakenly construed as a substance issue, or is no longer on the premises. We may be able to show that you were not reasonably aware of the person's issue or presence despite reasonable monitoring. We may also be able to show that no child suffered harm or faced substantial risk of harm.
Abuse and Neglect as Grounds for Illinois Day Care License Discipline
Section 8 of the Illinois Child Care Act includes as grounds for license discipline to “fail to report suspected abuse or neglect of children within the facility, as required by the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act.” Abuse and neglect allegations can be the most difficult to defend, depending on the seriousness of any harm children suffered. Our defense of those charges may involve showing that no abuse or neglect occurred, that persons reporting abuse or neglect were mistaken or retaliating, that conditions appearing to be signs of abuse were instead due to accidental injury or illness, that any abuse did not occur at your day care facility but may have occurred at the child's home or school, and that you were not reasonably aware of any signs of abuse despite your reasonable monitoring. We may also be able to show that you reasonably relied on another's report of the same matter.
Other Grounds for Illinois Day Care License Discipline
Section 8 of the Illinois Child Care Act includes as grounds for license discipline to “fail to maintain standards prescribed and published by the Department.” In other words, investigators may comb through the Department's standards to find other violations that Section 8 does not expressly list. How we may be able to help you defend such charges would depend on the charges' specific nature. But when investigators go beyond Section 8's express list, they may be alleging non-serious matters that do not warrant discipline. Examples of standards violations that may be serious enough to expose children to risk of harm include facility defects like exposed wiring, missing handrails, no smoke detectors or fire extinguishers, and inadequate heating and ventilation. Other significant standards violations may include inadequate floor space for the number and ages of children and inadequate furnishings, especially cots or beds to nap and tables and chairs to eat.
Defending standards violations may involve showing that you were reasonably unaware of the violations despite reasonable inspection, that the conditions were not endangering to children, that you promptly fixed the conditions as soon as brought to your attention, and that no child suffered harm from any such condition.
Illinois Day Care Provider Disciplinary Procedures
Disciplinary charges from the Illinois Department of Child & Family Services are only allegations. They are not factual findings of violations until after you have the opportunity for a hearing. Section 9 of the Illinois Child Care Act promises you procedural protections, in accord with your constitutional due process rights. Those protections include written notice to you detailing the disciplinary charges. You may also request a hearing before independent Department decision makers on the disciplinary officials' charges. Those officials must give you adequate notice in advance of the hearing date, time, and place and afford you the opportunity to retain defense counsel to appear with you at the hearing. Hearing officials have the power to subpoena witnesses on your behalf and to administer oaths to promote the truthfulness of testimony. You may present evidence at the hearing and cross-examine witnesses against you. The Illinois Administrative Procedure Act promises you other procedural rights, including a limited right of court review.
Premier Child Care License Defense in Illinois
The above procedural protections are not self-executing. Illinois Department of Child & Family Services disciplinary officials will not act as your representative on your behalf. Instead, retain our attorneys to level the playing field. We may be able to help you defend and defeat your Illinois child care provider disciplinary charges. The Lento Law Firm's premier Professional License Defense Team is available for your defense in Chicago, Aurora, Joliet, Naperville, Rockford, Springfield, Elgin, Peoria, Champaign, Waukegan, Cicero, or any other Illinois city or town. Call 888.535.3686 or complete this contact form now.