Another reminder it’s OK to follow your gut and fire your day care

The story this week of the 5-month-old baby that died in a Georgetown day care after choking on a glove is heartbreaking. I’m sure for many parents it brings home thoughts of how well do you know your day care and your day care workers?

Sometimes we, as parents, want to believe that everything is fine and we ignore the little signs that something might be amiss.

About two years ago, I wrote a story about when it is OK to fire your day care — something I also wrestled with when my daughter was 5.

Some of the best advice for that story came from Andrea Breen, who at the time was director of quality assurance for Stepping Stone Schools and an evaluator for National Association for the Education of Young Children.

If you think your child is in danger, don’t wait to give your two-weeks notice or try to follow the center’s policies on giving notice. Pull her out. “If you look at hierarchy — health, safety and security — nothing else matters above that,” Breen says. “If you feel there is a danger for your child to return to that school … you can’t return to that school for two weeks.”

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has a guide of things to look for.

Look at things like cleanliness, attitude of the caregiver and staff to child ratio in day cares. LISA POWELL / STAFF
Look at things like cleanliness, attitude of the caregiver and staff to child ratio in day cares. LISA POWELL / STAFF

Those things include:

Feel secure when you see that:

  • the facility welcomes you to visit any time, and you are invited to observe the class or participate in activities.
  • staff are alert and involved with the children.
  • staff seem warm and interested in the children. There is spontaneous laughter, hugging and eye-to-eye contact.
  • staff are gentle, but firm when necessary.
  • the facility is clean and attractive.
  • your child is relaxed and happy after the initial adjustment period.
  • your child seems physically well cared for. Staff inform you of minor accidents and tell you when your child doesn’t feel well.
  • children seem involved with constructive activities, and they get individual attention.

Be seriously concerned when you see that:

  • parents are not encouraged to visit the facility.
  • children are left without direct adult supervision.
  • adults spend much time scolding, ordering and yelling at children.
  • adults are physically rough with children or allow rough play.
  • the building is dirty, or you see unsafe conditions.
  • your child is unhappy about being left at the facility, and this doesn’t improve with time.
  • a child comes home bruised or injured, and the center can’t explain what happened. (The child may not remember minor bruises and scrapes received when playing, however.)
  • children seem aimless, bored, angry, or frustrated, or there are too many children to supervise

If you haven’t looked up your day care lately on the DFPS’ childcare search database, do it and do it regularly. There you can see when the last time your center or in-home day care provider was inspected and what the violations were.


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