The decision to place your child in a home or center daycare is not easy but is ultimately the best choice for many families. There are risks associated with any out-of-home care, though, and so every facility should be carefully examined, from a parent’s first walk-through of a daycare to every pick-up and drop-off. Here are the top seven daycare safety concerns, so parents can ensure their child’s safety, even when they’re not there.
- Improper Child-to-Caregiver Ratio: There are state mandates and regulations to ensure that all daycares have adequate staffing for the number of children they take on, but most professionals recommend an even lower number—around one caregiver for every three infants or young toddlers, usually classified as under two years of age; one caregiver for six older toddlers, between two and five years old; one caregiver for nine or fewer preschool-aged children.
- Under-Trained Staff: Again, the state demands specific training for all daycare staff. Parents should ask to see copies of first-aid and CPR cards for all staff members, discuss daycare employee training and protocols, and question daycare supervisors about vaccination policies for the staff. Parents should never feel embarrassed about making sure their child is safe.
- Careless or Improper Medication Dosing: From colds to teething to deathly allergies, medication is an important part of childcare, and daycare centers should have the proper dosage instructions, storage abilities, and medication protocols in place. Parents can always alleviate some stress by giving the medication at home, but if that isn’t possible, it’s best to send medication in the original container, fill out the adequate paperwork, and leave detailed instructions about storage and dosing.
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS): SIDS is a terrible tragedy, but risks can be alleviated by safe sleep practices like only putting a child to sleep on their back, eliminating soft bedding and crib bumpers, and never allowing a child to sleep with toys or blankets. Daycares should all follow these basic sleeping protocols and never hesitate to show a parent the sleeping situations.
- Illnesses: Because daycares have so many children, employees, and parents cycling through the doors each day, they are a breeding ground for germs and illness. It’s imperative that owners and staff are meticulous about cleaning and sanitizing common surfaces, disinfecting germ-ridden areas like the kitchen, bathroom, and changing tables, and washing toys daily. Parents can aid in preventing illness by immunizing their children and keeping sick kiddos home.
- Food Safety Issues: Day cares serve breakfast, lunch, and snacks to older kids, and store breastmilk or formula for infants and toddlers. All daycares should have a proper storage system in place for foodstuffs and have child locks on the refrigerator, drawers, and cabinet doors so children can’t open them. Parents should ask about allergy safeguards, perishable food storage, and safe labeling practices, so cross-contamination and spoilage is eliminated, and there is no risk of one baby receiving another’s milk or formula.