You make many decisions as a parent. However, not many are as critical to your child’s happiness and overall health as choosing the right day care. Finding someone who cares for your child as if they were their own is worth more than just about anything in life. And, let’s be honest, the only thing that might make you feel better when someone hates on you for being a working mom is the knowledge that your kiddos are being loved on even when you are clocked in.
If you’re currently searching for a day care for your children, there are many factors to take into consideration. Here are a few things to think about when choosing the right place for you and your family.
As sad as it sounds, abuse happens, and you can’t always be there to prevent it. The Child Welfare Information Gateway reports that child protective services investigations increased by 10 percent between 2013 and 2017 for out-of-home care providers. In Texas, for example nearly 90 children have died in daycare centers over the last 10 years, and more than 450 were sexually abused. As numbers like these rise, you must be informed about abuse and how to recognize the signs in your kids.
Changes in your child’s emotional or physical health are good indicators of abuse or neglect. If you notice bumps, bruises, or cuts on their body, ask them what happened and pay attention to how they respond. Many injuries that occur in child abuse cases are evident through radiology screenings. Not only are specific types of fractures more common in child abuse cases, but they can tell a story about the abuse. The healing stage of the fracture helps doctors determine how long ago the injury took place.
Being informed by asking questions of potential care providers is one of the best ways you can protect your child. When visiting possible centers, ask about the employees, their degrees, and if they receive ongoing training. You might also want to know how long current staff has been there and if the center experiences a high turnover in their team. This will help you evaluate the people who may be caring for your child.
While the place might be brightly painted and covered in adorable artwork, what lies behind the walls of the child care center may be harmful. Asbestos was recently discovered at two University of Montana child care centers. While the university stated that there were no health hazards, they did close the center for cleaning.
Asbestos is a dangerous mineral that was once woven into insulation and causes serious respiratory disease and lung cancer. While it is now banned from new construction, older buildings might be laden with this or other dangerous chemicals.
If you’re visiting a potential daycare center, ask about the age of the building and if they know if there is any risk of asbestos or lead paint before you sign your child up for care. Make sure that there are separate areas for food preparation, diapering stations, and bathrooms. As you walk through the center, look at the floors, walls, and lighting fixtures for cleanliness. You can tell a lot about the center just by doing a thorough inspection when they give you a tour.
Finally, ask any questions pertinent to the specific needs of your child. Does your kid follow certain nutritional guidelines or restrictions? Should specific triggers that may upset your child be avoided? Determine if the center is capable of meeting such needs. Further, if you have a child with special needs, day care staff may need equipment or training to best care for them, so ensure that everything is in order before signing up for care.
Assessing a Child Care Facility’s Reputation
Don’t just take the center’s word about the care they provide. Ask them to give you references from current clients. Give these people a call and talk to them about the facility’s policies and how they handle stressful situations, like a child who acts out or if you happen to be late for the third time in one week. These are all situations that can make or break a good facility.
You might also drop by the center unannounced later in the day, when parents should be picking up their children. This gives you a prime opportunity to talk to parents and observe a hectic time of day at the facility. If other parents aren’t happy with the center, you should keep looking until you find the place that provides quality child care.
Licensing Is Required
Most states require day care centers to be licensed. Going through this process means that the center meets minimum standards for health and safety. You also know that all licensed facilities will be inspected periodically to make sure they are complying with state regulations. If you don’t see a license posted in the center, ask them if you can see a copy to make sure that it’s up to date.
Child care regulations for licensed centers cover issues like staff training, how many children can be in the facility, and the administration of medications. State surveyors will also inspect for safety issues in the building and ensure that proper health practices, such as hand washing and immunization requirements, are being followed.
If you’re unsure of the licensing requirements in your state, check with your local Child Care Resources and Referral agency. You can also find your state’s resources and up-to-date information about licensing requirements at ChildCare.gov.
Choosing the Right Place for Your Children
Picking a daycare center can be agonizing. You are leaving a treasured, vulnerable person in the care of someone that you just met. By asking for recommendations, ensuring licensing, and taking a throughout inventory of the facility, you will be well on your way to finding the best place for your kids.