Choosing Childcare Part 2
No matter which type of childcare you choose you, as the parent, have certain rights.
The first, and in my opinion the most important, is the right to visit the center anytime there are children in care.
If they are open for business, and you are a client you can walk in. No phone call, no warning, just walk in. Even more important, you are allowed to go into any area where children may be. This includes the naproom and any other part of the center used for care.
Now there are certain requirements in place to protect the children. Public schools and large centers will have you sign in and show I.D. to prove you are a client. They won't let just anyone waltz in and poke around without cause. If you come to my center as a prospective client I will not let you wander around unescorted for the safety of the children in care.
Some public school staff are not aware of this regulation. I had regular arguments with the staff member at my daughter's Kindergarten about the cafeteria. The cafeteria had a "No parents and siblings allowed" policy. This was because it was a small cafeteria with limited seating and they couldn't accommodate it if every parent came and sat with their child during lunch. But, the school had staff at the door, watching the line and keeping the parents out, but no staff inside helping the children with their trays and their milk cartons. So every day I went up to the door, every day the young man told me I wasn't allowed inside, and every day I told him that 1 - that policy was illegal, and 2 - you aren't helping these children so I am going to. He would sit and think about that while I went in and helped my daughter and her classmates carry their trays and open their milk.
I had a client who would come to visit his daughter on his lunch hour every day. Yes, this was right before naptime, yes he liked to roughhouse and get her all wound-up right before nap, but it was his right to come visit his daughter. I simply started suggesting story time instead of rowdier games. Soon he was doing stories while I got everyone cleaned up and ready for nap. A very nice visit for everyone.
If you use licensed care you have the right to know who the licensing agency is, how to contact them, and if there are any complaints or reports on record for the childcare center. Make sure you ask!
Here are some things you should watch for when your child is in care.
First the infants:
Failure to thrive - if they stop gaining weight or start losing weight, check for a medical problem first, then start asking your provider questions. It could be that she uses different formula or a different nipple that the baby doesn't like, it could be she isn't feeding as often or as long as your child needs.
Diaper rash - again check for infections such as thrush, then ask questions.
Developmental delays - your baby should be improving their skills and trying new ones every day. If they stop reaching for things or trying to communicate they are not getting the stimulation that they need to develop.
Toddlers - watch for changes in behavior, if they start using the names stupid, dumb, brat, etc. be worried. They could be picking it up from other children in care. But it could also be that your caregiver doesn't see your little angel in the same light that you do.
Injuries - they are going to get hurt, they are still learning how their bodies work. You should get an injury report or note for every injury. If the reports are vague, if your child keeps hurting himself the same way over and over or keeps getting hurt by the same child then it is possible the children are being left unsupervised.
Pre-K and school age - listen to them, they should not be in trouble every day, they should enjoy going to care. Take complaints about other children being mean to them seriously.
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