Friday, April 2, 2010

Daycare Dilemmas

We are in the process of trying to find a daycare for Zane.  He's really getting to be too much for my sister-in-law to handle; we have trouble keeping him occupied at home, and there's two of us.  When I was pregnant and looking for a daycare in New Braunfels, I was told several times that I should have put my name on a list a year before I got pregnant.  Luckily my sister-in law was there, but now it's time for him to move to a daycare.   We have tomorrow off, so we will be driving around looking at what daycare centers are in our neighborhood.  We will bring Zane, since he is to be the daycare attendee.   Then Larry started talking to his teacher friends at lunch and getting their opinions about the matter.

My husband means well, really he does. Nobody is better at researching than him. It's his timing that I have a problem with.  He finds out today that there is a website where you can look up daycare centers and the results of their state inspections.  So he starts looking up daycares, and he freaks out.  A lot.  And he's got me freaked out, reading some of the reports to me.

It is the state's job to find problems.  They find problems so that those problems can be corrected.  I think that is a wonderful thing.  And on this website is listed all the violations for each center, such as someone leaving a bottle of bleach out where kids could reach it.  Put the bottle out of reach, problem solved.  Clean the rust out of the sink, problem solved.  I expect every daycare to have a couple of 'deficiencies' here and there. Those things don't really concern me as much as when I see a number of violations involving inappropriate discipline, use of threatening or negative langugage, inappropriate touching of a child in anger(such as grabbing the arm), leaving a child unattended, etc.  These things border on abuse or neglect; I don't want my child, or anyone's child, in that kind of an environment. 

But is that a dealbreaker?   It depends.  Has the person in the complaint been fired or are they still employed by the facility?  If the person is still employed by the facility, has some sort of discipline occurred?  Has that person received training that addresses the issue, such as training in positive behavior interventions?

If the employee was fired, that tells me that there is zero tolerance for such behavior, and clearly established boundaries for employees as well as the children is a plus. Everybody knows where they stand.  If the employee is still on staff at the facility but has received additional training or counseling regarding their behavior, that also is a good thing. That tells me that the facility understands that this individual exhibits more positive traits than negative.  Sometimes a person has a bad day; if this was an isolated incident, then it should never happen again.  Additional training ensures that the person has "more tools in the toolbox" so they don't need to resort to negative behavior.

If the person was not fired, if this was not an isolated incident,  if this person continues to work at the facility without consequence or training, then this tells me that this is a sytemic issue with the facility.  That kind of a place gets crossed off our list.  In my opinion, those sorts of places should be closed down, because it's only a matter of time before some child gets seriously hurt or worse.

So we are doing our research, looking up all the potential daycares in our area for our trip tomorrow.  We are parents who pay attention and are doing our best to find a good place for Zane, a place where we can feel comfortable leaving him during the day.  It would be my hope that every parent would do this kind of research before they choose a daycare, but I know that not every parent has the same ability or interest as we do.  I just hope that no child suffers because of that.

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