5 Warning Signs Your Child's Daycare Is Not Right for You

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by: Lindsay Hutton
You may think you've found the best daycare for your child, but are you sure? It's important to know what to look for in a quality daycare center, as well as signs that may indicate a potential problem. After all, if you can't be with your child during the day, don't you want to provide her with the best care possible?
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Disrespect for Your Concerns
Any issues or requests you have about your child's care should be addressed directly with the staff and manager of the center. If your concerns are dismissed or ignored, or if the staff becomes defensive or rude, it is a red flag that your child's care may be compromised while you are not there. Do not feel that you are being too picky or overprotective if you have questions for the staff. Your questions should be answered in an attentive and helpful manner.
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Frequent Staff Changes/Inadequate Coverage
Frequent staff changes could be a sign that workers are unhappy and there are problems with the program. Take notice how the staff reacts if you make an unexpected visit, such as during your lunch break. If you are discouraged from doing this, or are asked to call before dropping in unannounced, it may be a sign of inadequate care.

Ideally, daycare staff should be trained in early childhood education in order to nurture your child's skills and development. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends one staff person for every three to five small children, and one staff member for every seven to ten older children. If training in early childhood education is not required of the staff at your child's daycare, or the center is understaffed, it's time to look elsewhere.

In addition, the center's director should be available and easily accessible for parents, staff, and children. If your center's director isn't around during the day and is hard to reach, it's a good indication the supervision at your daycare is not sufficient.

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Low Standards for Safety and Cleanliness
Are emergency phone numbers, such as poison control and the hospital, visible and posted for easy reference? Does the staff hold fire drills? Is the playground safe and secure from strangers? Are children prevented from climbing on the counters or other high places? It may seem like common sense to you, but childproofing and stranger safety should be of utmost importance to the center, too. If the staff is unaware of an emergency procedure that should be followed, or the playground is not fenced in, making it easy for a little one to wander off or be lured away, then it is not the place for your child. After all, you should be able to trust these individuals with your child's safety.

The cleanliness of the center should be high on your priority list, too. The staff should enforce hand-washing rules, and toys and any surfaces should be cleaned on a regular basis. The last thing you need is your child getting sick at daycare because of dirty toys and unsanitary conditions.

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Lack of Communication
A good daycare will encourage parents to be as involved as possible with the center and their child's care. Family meetings with the staff are an important way to stay connected and to know what is going on when you are not there. If your center does not hold regular meetings for parents and discourages you from visiting with staff or staying involved, you need to find a new center or talk to your center about making improvements. The center should also provide you with regular reports and updates on your child's progress and activities.

It's also important to connect with your child by asking him how the day was. Simple conversations like this can help alert you to any problems the center may be having, or if you child is unhappy.

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Vague or Undocumented Policies
Not only should your daycare center have specific policies regarding discipline, your child's goals, and the center's finances, but they should be in writing and thoroughly gone over with you before you make a commitment. If your center does not have their policies documented in writing, you should be wary.

In addition, the center's certificate of compliance from the Department of Public Welfare should be prominently displayed. A center cannot legally operate if it does not possess this license.