Choosing a daycare for your child can be a tough decision. The best daycares meet these signs of a safe daycare.
Nothing is more important to parents than their children’s health and happiness. As a parent, you want to be absolutely sure your children are in the best hands when you can’t be with them personally. If your child will be joining the 12 million children in daycare, he or she could be there up to 40 hours a week. It’s critical that they’re safe during that time. Learning about basic daycare standards and red flags will help you feel confident in your facility of choice.
With roughly 10,600 licensed child care programs in Minnesota, you should never have to settle for an untrained staff or unequipped facility. These daycares are required to keep a copy of their license displayed in plain sight.
If you have any doubts, you can look up the license through the Department of Human Resources. This will reveal whether there have been any formal complaints against the daycare as well as how the issue was resolved. Simply checking when the license is due for renewal will let you know whether it’s expired and when the daycare was last inspected.
Anything you keep out of reach at home should also be properly locked away or covered at a daycare center. Check the walls to make sure outlets are safeguarded, especially in play areas with high traffic. If there are any areas where it’s not safe for a child to wander, such as a staircase, the areas need to be blocked off by a childproofed gate.
While the presence of toys can be a good sign, broken ones and small pieces are choking hazards. Choking is the number one cause of unintentional death of children under one and the fourth for children from one to nine years old. Staff should be vigilant about any parts that could be swallowed.
Daycares should also position cribs away from windows. Not only will this shelter your babies from extreme temperatures, it will protect them from getting tangled in blinds and curtains. Both changing tables and high chairs should have straps to reduce the risk of falls.
Longterm Staff With Low Turnover
An unpleasant environment affects people of all ages, but children are particularly sensitive to their surroundings. If a daycare staff finds their workplace intolerable, chances are it isn’t optimal for your little one either.
Low staff turnover rates suggest that caregivers are happy and not overly-stressed. Their positive feelings toward work will reflect in the way they interact with the children, which is likely to be in an upbeat and patient manner.
A long term staff also allows children to form strong bonds with the employees, giving children a sense of predictability and emotional security. Likewise, long term staff are more likely to be familiar with any special needs a child may have such as allergies.
High Caregiver-to-Child Ratios
A high caregiver-to-child ratio ensures that the needs of young ones are being met fully and timely. When it comes to the number of caregivers on staff, there are different specific minimums depending on the age group.
As a parent, you know that the younger the children, the more closely and carefully they need to be helped and monitored. That’s why there has to be at least one caregiver for every four infants. For toddlers, the ratio is one to seven, while preschoolers who are generally more independent need one caregiver for every 10.
It’s a good practice to be overstaffed in case employees take a sick day or have an emergency. Daycare operators who are especially conscientious may go out of their way to exceed the minimum number of carers required. Unfortunately, some will prioritize their profits over your children and intentionally overwork a smaller staff.
A Trained Staff
Before working with children, future caregivers must complete pre-service training and renew their certification periodically. This includes CPR and first aid. You can ask to see certification to make sure it is up to date. It’s a good sign when the staff willingly and happily share documentation with you.
Safe sleep practices are also very important. If you’re visiting a facility, pay attention to how the workers are caring for babies. Napping infants should be on their backs in their cribs free of pillows, bedding, soft toys, or any other items that can contribute to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Children are exposed to illnesses and infections in group care. If proven infection control policies are not followed, it increases their risk of getting sick. See if the staff and the children wash their hands, especially if you’re visiting during meal time.
Written policies are essential in safeguarding expectations for both the parents and the staff. Policies on how to take care of children as well as security policies should be spelled out in detail. Ask to see these policies in writing and learn where to report issues if needed.
For example, a clear security policy ensures that perpetrators can’t enter the facility. An unknown person should not be able to walk in and out freely. On your first visit, observe how they handle your arrival and entrance. If you do decide to enroll your child, make sure their pick up and drop off policies are followed. That way, your child only leaves with authorized people.
The daycare should also be capable of handling emergencies. For example, there must be an escape plan and procedure in the event of a fire or outside threat.
A young child should be positively disciplined and encouraged to do the right thing in an age appropriate manner. Research shows that positive reinforcement, or acknowledging positive behavior, helps children to develop. It’s more encouraging and more effective than solely reprimanding negative behavior. Some examples you may notice are praise for sharing or compliments for helping peers.
An On-Call Healthcare Consultant
A child care health consultant is a licensed medical professional who is experienced in training and mentoring child care professionals to improve health and safety practices. Make sure that the daycare of your choice either has an on premise healthcare consultant or has an ongoing relationship with one.
Contact an Attorney
Despite all of the precautions you take, there is still a chance your child could be harmed while attending a daycare. If your child ends up in this unfortunate circumstance, the compassionate legal team of Sand Law can help you to take action against the childcare facility and secure maximum compensation for your little one’s injuries. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 651-291-7263.