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Palmetto Parent

Finding a Safe Quality Daycare

Aug 22, 2018 09:26AM ● By Emily Stevenson
By Kimberly Blaker

Looking for daycare is one of the more stressful tasks parents of young children face. Not only do parents have to contend with the logistics, such as convenience of location and hours of operation, but of utmost concern is safety and development of their child.

Although national statistics on abuse and neglect by daycare providers alone isn’t readily available, some experts estimate approximately 5% of child abuse and neglect cases occur at daycare homes and facilities. So parents should take extra precautions in finding suitable care for their children.

Finding the right daycare
There are several steps parents can take before sending their child to a new daycare to ensure their child’s safety and well-being. If possible, try to visit several daycare homes or facilities so you can make comparisons.

Is the daycare licensed?
The first thing to look for is whether a daycare facility or home is licensed. Licensing is required in most states if the caregiver isn’t a relative. Visit your state licensing and regulatory affairs department website to look up a daycare to ensure its license is current.

Is the daycare in compliance?
While you’re at your state’s website, find out what your state’s requirements are for daycare homes and centers, so you know what to expect. You’ll want to keep this information handy when you tour the home or facility, so you know whether the daycare you’re considering complies.

The daycare tour
A tour of the daycare will tell you a lot. So don’t be shy about asking for a full tour. Think of it, however, as an inspection. Look for the following:

Are all areas that are used by or accessible to children thoroughly childproofed?

Are there safety plugs in all electrical outlets?

Are stairways securely blocked off?

Do kitchen and bathroom cabinets have child locks?

Do exterior doors have safety locks up high?

Is there a pool or hot tub in the area? If so, it should be completely fenced off with a childproof gate.

Is there a fenced outdoor play area?

Is it tidy aside from toys children are playing with?

Do the bathroom and kitchen appear sanitary?

Is the heating or cooling set at a comfortable temperature?

Are there adequate toys and equipment for the number and ages of children?

Do cribs, playpens, and other baby equipment meet safety standards?

Is the number of children present within the capacity the daycare’s licensed for? Does the daycare meet the appropriate ratio of caregivers to children?

Does it smell clean? Or do you smell neglected diapers or cigarette smoke?

Are the children happy and content?

Is there ample space for the children to play?

How does the staff interact with the children?

The daycare interview
This is another and equally important step to finding a quality loving environment for your child. Take this list of questions with you and add your own questions as well.

What is the maximum number of children you have in your care at any time?

What are the age ranges of the children you care for?

What types of activities do you do with the children?

Are meals and snacks provided? If so, of what do they consist? Also, what time do the children eat?

Can I drop in unannounced?

How do you handle discipline?

Do you ever take children in the car? If so, are there enough child seats and seat belts for each child?

Are there other members living in your home or outside staff who will care for the children? If so, who are they and what are their ages?

How are naps handled?

What is the experience or education of the daycare provider and staff?

What is your policy when a child is sick?

Can I talk to the parents of other children you care for?

Is video available so I can peek in at my child from my computer or phone?

Kimberly Blaker is the author of a kid’s STEM book, Horoscopes: Reality or Trickery? containing fun experiments to help kids understand the scientific method and develop critical thinking skills.