The routine for many working parents includes taking their children to daycare, whether a personal daycare provider, or a preschool or other organization. Mom and Dad know it’s a positive move for their children to socialize and interact with others, while serving as a way to keep the kids occupied (and sometimes educated) as the parents make a living. But, as recently as January 29 of this year, we hear stories about abuse in daycare centers, abuse and injuries that rear their ugly head in many forms: unwarranted or unusual punishment, satanic or cult-influenced ritual abuse, neglect and, sadly, sexual abuse.
In a particular case in January, a child fell from a changing table at the daycare center while being changed by one of the attendants. The mother was not made aware of the injury or incident until she noticed unusual behavior in her child a few days later, which obviously delayed any immediate treatment for the child. How many other cases like this occur across the country? Is your daycare center holding something from you related to the care and welfare of your child when the child is out of your hands?
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is an agency that provides credentialing for daycare centers. When seeking out a center or in-home daycare provider for your child you’ll first want to make sure those working at the center are accredited. That means that those who are caring for the children are required to meet certain guidelines and pass certain tests. You might think it’s great for the neighbor across the street to watch your child every day, but what happens when an accident occurs or when your neighbor has other plans? Having a credentialed care facility will make you feel extra secure.
Before you choose a daycare facility, visit the ones on your list and use this checklist to help you decide where best to place your child.
- Check the cleanliness of the facility and staff. Does everyone look harried and unkempt? If they do, that means your child may receive similar care. You want clean surroundings, a clean facility, and clean attendants caring for your child.
- Is the staff friendly, or are they stressed-out and preoccupied? That is a sure sign that those tending to the children are not focused. You want to be sure that your child is first and foremost in their minds.
- Where is the daycare center located? Is it on a busy street, a rural area, or adjacent to a school or firehouse? You’ll want to make sure there’s no inclination for kids to roam about freely outside, wander into traffic, or play ball in an unfenced area. Let’s face it… kids are kids and they like to explore. You don’t want your child exploring on a busy street.
Unlike the case of the mother above who didn’t realize her daughter’s injuries until a few days later, you can be prepared to look for signs that might indicate abuse or neglect.
- Check your child every night for bruises, scars or cuts. A good, qualified daycare center will report any incidents to you, whether major or minor. No parent wants to be surprised by markings on a child.
- Is your child wearing the same clothing and underwear as when you dropped him or her off? If not, find out the cause. Was there a spill, an accident, or a tear in the clothing? If so, how did it occur?
- Continue to be vocal with your child. Ask him or her how the day went, and whether any new friends were made. Ask what the teacher talked about that day. Did the teacher say anything to the child that made the child uncomfortable?
- Be aware of any behavioral changes in your child. Is the child suddenly withdrawn, or expressing not wanting to attend the care center? Any change in behavior means a change in environment or care. Pay attention. Knowing the behavioral pattern of your child will help determine whether anything unusual took place.
If you suspect that your child has been injured at a daycare center, whether or not you were made aware of it later (or at all), you’ll want to seek the advice of an attorney who specializes in cases related to child abuse and daycare centers. Seeking out an attorney in New York or where you live will best serve your needs when that firm has experience dealing with these types of abuse cases.
While parents will never stop worrying after dropping a child off at daycare, they should still feel comfortable knowing that their child is in the best possible care, whether not in their care.