Smart researching tips for safer child care

Sometimes it seems that no one can be trusted with our precious children with all the horror stories out there, but there are steps you can take to find a safe caregiver. Everyone always says to research before selecting a caregiver, but the following are smarter researching tips.

Maybe it just seems more common than it actually is, but with every childcare horror story on the news, parents become more and more skeptical of who is caring for their child when they are not around. Mothers are often forgoing the extra income and career opportunities and staying home as opposed to stressing over caregivers and the safety of their children. Sometimes it seems that no one can be trusted with our precious children, but there are steps you can take to find a safe caregiver. Everyone always says to research before selecting a caregiver, but the following are smarter researching tips.

1. The Internet Search

Google, Yahoo, Bing or whatever your preferred search engine is can become your best tool. Start with the name of the nanny, daycare, or caregiver in question. See what comes up. Read the reviews, search for newspaper articles, double check facts, etc. Follow leads you find. For example, you are researching a potential nanny named Kim Pham. You enter her name into Google to see what comes up. There are a few stories that pop up immediately regarding a major drug bust. You click on one of the links which leads you to a story about a man arrested for selling drugs. After further researching the matter, you discover that Kim Pham is married to this man. Her references and background checked out perfectly but Google taught you that Kim was married to a major drug dealer who is now in jail.

2. Ask References for References

When you ask someone for references for anything, they will automatically list people who will no doubt speak very highly of them. No one would list someone who might even have the slightest negative thing to say. Therefore, regular old references become sort of pointless right? If we know someone is going to give us a list of references that we already know will praise them, why even ask or call at all? Here’s how to beat the catch-22; ask the references for another reference or two. For example, Daycare #1 gives you Nancy Smith as a reference. Nancy’s children have been going to Daycare #1 for years and she loves the facility. She speaks well of the place of course. While you have her on the phone, ask her for two additional references of parents whose children attended the daycare. This will give accurate information for two reasons; #1, Nancy will be caught off guard and not have too much time to think about who to give and #2, Nancy won’t be completely sure of other parent’s exact feelings towards the daycare. If you ask the caregiver for two references and then ask each of them for two references, you now have 6 references (four of which were spur of the moment and less planned).

3. Observe the Children

People always recommend watching the teachers interact with the children while touring the facility, but you really should do quite the opposite. Pay attention to the children. Adults can be fake and pretend for a long time. Children cannot. They will tell you more about the childcare facility than almost anything else. Say the children act surprised or alarmed at the teacher’s behavior while you’re around (you know, how your kids act around you when you are in a REALLY good mood), this might be an indication that things are not normally like this. If the kids are relaxed and warm towards the teachers and aides, then it should be a good sign. Lastly, compare how the children react to each teacher. Of course there are some teachers that kids just click with better than others, but is there one teacher that the kids seem afraid of or avoid completely? That might be a red flag.

4. Look into the Vitals

There are some “boring” details of the childcare provider that actually might provide some clues about where you might potentially send your child. Rates for example can say a lot. The cheapest price might seem like a good idea if all else is equal. However, daycares who hire formally educated workers have to charge more to pay the wages of their deserving employees. Nannies that have gone to school for childcare related fields have to charge more to pay off student loans and they generally should make more than one who has no education. Employee turn-over rates at daycares and longevity of employment for nannies can say a lot as well. If a daycare has a high turnover rate, it should be questioned because a good daycare with fair rules who hires quality employees should not have a high turnover rate. A final “boring” detail that should not be overlooked is how long a daycare has been licensed and in business, whether or not there were any lapses in operations or licensing, and how long the potential nanny has been working in the field. These will tell about experience as well as any licensing issues.

5. Pay Attentions to Changes

Lastly and possibly most important is to watch your child after you choose a childcare provider. If your child has never been to daycare or had a nanny before, they will inevitably be acting a little different for a little time due to such a new and strange experience. However, if your child has been to a childcare provider previously and is acting very abnormally, I would be worried. I have been blessed to never have needed daycare. However, when my daughter was 2, I enrolled her for two hours, two times a week to socialize with children her age. She was an only child and I felt like she was missing out on being with other kids. The first day, she was apprehensive and teary. This was to be expected. The second day, she got a little worse. By the end of the second week, she would start bawling and pleading not to go as soon as we pulled into the parking lot. It became very hard to get her out of the car. She never went back. I never found out what the problem was and maybe it was nothing. However, when it comes to our children, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

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