I have had many parents ask for referrals to child care programs. Most parents anguish over the decision to place their sweet child into a program. It is a well-documented fact that a quality child care program can help children flourish socially and mentally.
As a former Licensing Specialist for the Department of Social Services in South Carolina, I have seen many accidents and children being hurt and or injured in child care. Incidents include: scrapes and bruises, inappropriate sexual attention, biting, hair cutting, hair pulling, and even death!!
Although, it is inevitable- children get hurt in out of home care, at home, EVERYWHERE! The likelihood of your child being hurt of injured in child care is decreased if you place your child in a quality program.
There are several factors that can help you determine a quality child care program:
• Qualified Teacher- do not be afraid to ask of the teacher’s educational/ training background. It is desirable for the teacher to hold a degree and training in Early Childhood Education. However, this is not a requirement in some states. You would not want to go to a Doctor without proper degree and training. You should hold the same standards for your child’s education.
• Appropriate background checks- ensure the teachers and directors have background checks. Although State regulated Child Care Centers require some form of background check, you should ensure they have been done. It is possible for child care centers to employ persons without proper background checks- willingly or unknowingly.
• If applicable, ensure buses are in safe condition. I have seen children being transported in buses without a back window. There was a plyboard placed where the window should be that was propped upright by a chair. It should not be an unreasonable request to inspect the bus your child will be riding on. If it is a problem for you to inspect the bus, take that as a sign.
• Keep an open eye when you visit the Program. Drop in unannounced and look for children left alone, rude talk toward children, and too many children in a classroom. This goes without saying. The level of respect you see toward other children is the same level of respect your child will receive when you are not there.
• Safe play equipment and toys. Ensure there are enough toys in the classroom and there are no broken toys or equipment.
• Suspicious strangers hanging around the Program. If you see suspicious behavior in or around the Program, be proactive and report it to the director/ teacher.
Whether you choose a State Regulated Child Care Program or not, it is your responsibility to ensure your child is in a safe environment.