Across the United States each year, thousands of children are injured in child care settings, such as preschools, before-school programs, after-school programs, child care homes, and day care centers. Furniture, toys, playgrounds, and other children are a few of the common factors that lead to children being injured in such settings. It is understandable that many parents feel anxious when it comes to leaving their child in a child care setting, but in many instances – especially if both parents work – some form of child care is usually the only option.
For your child’s safety, it is important that you pick a good day care center that values child safety. Easier said than done, right? You may be wondering, What makes a day care a good day care? Luckily for parents, there are ways of telling whether or not a day care is the right place for your child.
The Tell-Tale Signs of a Safe Day Care
When you are visiting day care centers, there are several positive indicators to be on the lookout for. If a child care setting is lacking even one of these indicators, you should pause, examine your options, and ask additional questions if needed. Your child’s safety is your top priority, and a day care should share that sentiment and not cut corners. In addition to looking for the following indicators, make sure to ask any questions that you may have. These indicators can help you differentiate the good child care options from the bad and bring you one step closer to finding the day care that is best for your child.
- Parents are allowed to drop in anytime. Many day cares across the country have an open-door policy. Not having one only serves to make parents question how the day care conducts itself in the absence of parents watching.
- The children are supervised at all times. All it takes is a second for a child to get hurt, so staff should be constantly be watching the children, not daydreaming or texting on their cell phones.
- The center is adequately staffed. While each state has its own caregiver-to-child ratios, the general recommendations are:
- 1:4 (infants/young toddlers)
- 1:6 (older toddlers)
- 1:9 (preschool-aged children)
- There is an emphasis on cleanliness. Toys and surfaces should be cleaned regularly. Staff and children should wash their hands often. Messes should be cleaned up in a timely manner.
- Spaces and objects are childproofed. Tables with sharp corners should be padded. Electrical outlets should be covered. Stairs and other elevated areas should be appropriately blocked off. Objects that can cause a child to choke or become strangled should be out of reach of children; the same goes for toxic substances.
- Outside play areas are enclosed and safe. The enclosure of the outside play area should be sturdy and able to keep children within the play area. The play area equipment should be safe, and that includes the ground beneath the equipment as well. Also, if children are outside, staff should be outside as well.
Society values the protection of young children. Thus, day cares are monitored at the state level. Child care facilities and agencies must secure proper licensing, and failure to do so could result in criminal charges. Further, teachers and supervisors should be properly trained as to how to best provide for children and monitor their safety.