Who is Watching Your Children?

Quality Home DaycareI just watched a news story about the five toddlers that managed to wander away from their daycare unnoticed? http://www.kmbc.com/news/31082156/detail.html

I have owned and operated an in-home daycare for 16 years and taught kindergarten for many years before that.  I cannot even begin to imagine the well deserved panic that owner is going through.   Fear of lawsuits, loss of enrollment and being closed down completely are certainly keeping the owner awake this evening.  I certainly hope while she (assumed, not confirmed) lies there she says some serious prayers of gratitude that none of those children were seriously injured or worse.  My chest is still tight just thinking about it!

The parents of the children who wandered off are probably still holding them.  At the very least, they are sitting in their rooms watching them sleep, afraid to take their eyes off of them.  All of the parents of children who are enrolled there are certainly questioning their child care decision.

The story says that the daycare has suspended the teachers involved.  Suspended?  Really?  The state is conducting an investigation.  Gee, ya think?   The daycare sent home a letter downplaying the incident.  This makes me sad and is the biggest indicator of why this probably happened in the first place.  Complacency.

One parent is quoted as saying she has witnessed the teachers not paying attention to where the children were in the past.  I have a question for her.  Did she take this up with the director?  Did it happen again?   Did she bring her son back anyway?  Why?  As scary as this story is I want to suggest something rather unpopular.  How much are the parents responsible?  Have we become so reliant on the state to “license”, “survey” and “preapprove” that we have relinquished our common sense?

There is a part of me that wishes there were no licensing for child care.  What if parents were solely responsible for making sure they were leaving their children in a safe place with people who would love and care for them?  Would I expect parents to know about a faulty latch on a gate?  No, especially since I’m sure they expect the state to check that.  However, I would expect them to notice if teachers were so involved in their own conversations that they weren’t paying attention to children.  I would expect them to address it respectfully.

If you are a parent looking for child care or one that has a child in care already I have one piece of professional advice for you.  Listen to your gut.  The state comes once of a year.  Maybe.  You are at your child’s daycare several times a week.  If something is bothering you, say something!   It’s probably easily addressed.  A caregiver worth her salt would never be offended.  I want my parents to be able to talk to me.  I love their children!  We need to be able to communicate.  Parents should drive to work 100% confident that their child is safe and well cared for while they are at work.

I won’t apologize for getting on my soapbox and running well over the suggested number of words.  I am passionate about teaching and I am passionate about protecting children!  Stories like this make me both sad and frustrated.  Share this with a parent.  Maybe you will protect a child, too.

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