Category: Blog

The very job that you do as a child care provider allows you access to a great deal of information regarding the children and families you service. Upon enrollment and throughout the year, parents provide you with their personal information so you can best care for their child, however they provide you with this information with the EXPECTATION that this personal information will be kept confidential. Maintaining confidentiality is an important aspect of the job that you do as a child care provider.

Having roots in the Constitution, Confidentiality and Rights to Privacy are something Americans hold near and something Americans hold near-and-dear to them. Thus, violations of Confidentiality and Rights to Privacy often end up in the Court System.

Despite the emphasis on maintaining confidentiality in early care, violations of rights to privacy and breaching of confidentiality occurs frequently in early care settings. Common reasons that breach of confidentiality occurs in the child care setting:

  • Staff loses sight of the fact that they have a “professional” relationship with the families and children they service. When a professional relationship melds into a personal relationship, familiarity and comfort often set in and confidentiality can be breached.
  • We find ourselves emotionally involved with the children that we service and our hearts go out to them. Their difficulties may lay heavy on our hearts and we may discuss their situation with others to “unburden” ourselves, thus breaching confidentiality.
  • Human nature makes us a “chatty” society…we like to talk about others.

As a society, we seem to have lost our sense of privacy. The media has saturated us with “reality” shows, where anything goes… as well as pharmaceutical commercials describing conditions in detail.

Who in the child care setting is guaran- teed Rights to Privacy?

  • Child;
  • Families; and
  • Staff.

What information is to be kept Confidential? Basically ALL personal information is to be kept private, however there are exceptions and certain situations where you may need, or be required, to share information.

    Sharing of Child Information:

*WITHIN the Childcare Provider: At times it is necessary to share information about a child in your care to best service that child . Decide who to share information with, on a need-be, case- by-case basis. Ask yourself WHO NEEDS TO KNOW THIS INFOR- MATION TO BEST SERVICE THIS CHILD? Different scenarios will yield different answers.

* OUTSIDE the Child Care Provider: Information can only be shared outside of the Childcare Provider with the written permission of the child’s parent (or guardian). This written permission should include the following : what information can be shared, to whom the information can be shared, the reason for sharing the information, and a statement that the permission can be rescinded by the parent at any time. The document must be signed and dated by the parent.

Exceptions to the Above:
1.) Subpeona related to release of information
2.) Court Order related to release of information Mandated Reporting of Suspected Child Abuse & Neglect

    Sharing of Family Information:

What is a family? Basically, the accepted definition is: those people living within a household. All information about the families you service should be kept confidential. This applies to information you get within or outside of the Childcare Provider. Remember you have a professional relationship with the family 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Ask yourself “Who Needs to Know?” Unless it is a serious safety concern, in most instances, the answer will be “no one needs to know.”

    Sharing of Staff/Employee Information:

Employees’ personnel information: Personnel information should be kept in a locked cabinet with limited access. Remember the information in the file belongs to the employee. In order to share personnel information (e.g., if the employee is applying for a mortgage or car loan), the employer needs written permission from the employee granting permission that the information can be released, who it can be released to and the reason it is being released. Again, the document needs to be signed by the employee and dated.

Employees’ personal information: The individual employee owns the “personal” information about him or herself. Just because you have information about someone doesn’t give you the right to share it! If you know something about someone and you are tempted to share it, ask yourself several questions: Who owns this information? Who needs to know it? Is it true? and what is my motivation for sharing it? Remember once information is out there, it can’t be rescinded. Sharing of information is “gossip” and gossip in the workplace is dangerous.

Breach of confidentiality and violation of rights of privacy can have huge ramifications. Not only can the child care agency be held liable, but the individ- ual child care provider can be held liable as well. Recognize yourself as the professional that you are… and recognize that your professional responsibility to your clients (the children and families you service) includes maintaining their confidentiality and re- specting their rights to privacy.


Childcare providers know all too well that feeling in their stomach the minute they hear the doorbell ring and see a DCF or Local Licensing Inspector standing outside. The feeling of being sick. The feeling of being guilty of something. The feeling that their business could be closing any moment. The feeling that they did something very wrong. The feeling that they committed one or more Class 1 violations.

It’s a feeling no business owner ever wants to feel. However, it’s this very feeling that Florida’s licensed childcare providers feel almost every day when inspectors suddenly appear ready to investigate alleged violations.

Other than for the annual licensing inspection, DCF or Local Licensing generally will not come to your centers unless something went wrong. For example, a child was injured, a child was abused, a parent placed a complaint, or, even worse, a disgruntled staff member filed an anonymous complaint.

What did we do wrong to cause the violations?

This is the question that childcare owners and operators and directors instinctively ask themselves. The actual answer may vary, but often times the response is “nothing.” That is, the owner/operator did nothing wrong themselves. Rather, it was a staff member who made a simple mistake, such as leaving a purse in an unlocked cabinet or a staff mistakenly counting the number of children during attendance because she got distracted. For the vast majority of violations given to providers, it is the carelessness or negligence of staff that results in violations – not the owner’s/operator’s actions or inactions.

Class 1 violations - legal help is available
Do you know what to do if your center receives a Class 1 Violations?

What can be done?

Once Class violations are issued, it is similar to a grand jury issuing an indictment. You have been charged not with a crime, but with a violation of the applicable childcare licensing rules and regulations. Some providers, thinking that they have no options, simply accept “guilt,” pay the applicable fine, and try to move-on with their daily business operations.

Often, they are ignorant of the fact that they have rights. They have a right to challenge the violations by filing an appeal. They have a right to require DCF or Local Licensing to prove the allegations against the provider. Many providers don’t even bother appealing the violations because the task seems daunting and overwhelming – especially for an owner/provider who is not legally trained and may not know all of their rights.

Consult Eric B. Epstein, Esq. – The Legal Wiz 4 Childcare Biz

In addition to being a licensed attorney for over 23 years, I was the hands-on owner/operator of a large private preschool in West Palm Beach for over 7 years. I was also on the Board of Directors of F.A.C.C.M. from approximately 2014-2016.

Eric just “gets it” because he has been in your shoes. He knows first-hand the sinking feeling in you gut when DCF or Local Licensing knocks on the door. He can relate to your stress and anxiety because he was in the same place when violations were assessed against his center.

Eric is aggressive in representing his clients and forces Licensing to prove its case and allegations.

Having been an owner/operator for so many years, Eric understands not just the language of the rules and regulations, but how they are implemented and where they conflict. You would be surprised to learn how many inspectors don’t truly know all of the rules – but only focus on the main ones they try to enforce.

If you have received Class 1 or 2 violations, or received notice from your ELC that they plan to terminate your SR or VPK contracts or place your center on probation, Eric is here to help you. The quicker you retain counsel to represent your interests, the easier it usually is for Eric to gather evidence, interview witnesses and prepare your defense.

Remember, DCF, Local Licensing and the ELC have their own attorneys working for them. Don’t you also deserve your own Legal Wiz 4 Childcare Biz working for you?

Eric is available for a free initial phone consultation.  Please call 954-272-8292 today and speak directly with Attorney Eric B. Epstein – the Legal Wiz 4 Childcare Biz. You may also visit his website at