As an over thirty year veteran of the child care profession and an author of a novel dealing with the negligence which occurs in the day care centers, I have found myself asking this question repeatedly.
As the years have passed, the question comes to the forefront of my mind more often. I have been employed in many centers in the past. Most of which I left deciding to seek employment elsewhere due to their lack of organization, cleanliness, mistreatment of the staff, poor wages and, most of all because of the slipshod attitude and occasional abuse in the care of children.
We as adults tend to worry and frustrate ourselves more with the quality of education for school-aged children when she should be focusing on the care of the infant through preschooler. These are the formative years in which life’s values are ingrained by the time a child reaches 5 years old. Sure, some habits can be changed, but the main foundation is established in the beginning.
We as the care-givers can have great influence on the children. I know this because children will pick up our habits and take them home- the way we move, the way we say things. I know this because I have heard from many parents how their child mimics me in their play and in their daily lives, so I try to be a great role model. The way we treat the children are the way they grow. It’s not just “a lack of home training.” I hear this statement often in the child care system especially when a child is misbehaving.
Many children spend anywhere from six to 12 hours a day within one particular center, with one to two adults as their care-givers. What are we showing them? Anger, frustration or the attitude “Do what you want because I’m not your momma”? If parents only knew the truth, they would just spend more time researching the center.
Find out why there is a high rate of staff turnover. Don’t be content with the fact your child’s particular care giver is still there. Maybe they just can’t afford to leave. Maybe they just can’t afford to leave. Things change during Summer vacations, new people come in and favorites may be gone. Parents don’t just grab a lunch menu on your way out of the center and assume that because it looks nutritious, your child must be eating right.
Teachers are to make sure the children eat their lunches, but in some centers the food is so horrible the amount the children given are so minimal that it hurts my heart to place it in front of the child. Drop in at lunch time. Give no advance warning, and you may be surprised. Just because you pay your money to a fancy, well-equipped center that all is well.
Centers established to take care of the “poorer” majority of children tend to have more equipment, more food and generally better funding. As I’m sure you know, most centers are run by the rules of minimum standards-and that is just what is there; the minimum. Centers tend to do just enough to squeeze their own standards into the rules.
Explore your child’s center. Make many unannounced visits. Appear at different times. Walk through the center. Don’t just stop at the door of your child’s class. At most centers that I have worked in (and I have worked in the best to the worst) the teachers are to have activities and lessons prepared. That’s a very frustrating job to do when there are a few or no supplies to use. Are there Kleenex? Bathroom tissue? Paper towels?
If your child is an infant, I implore you to stop in more often. See if anyone is holding your infant, playing on the floor, singing or playing music. If you always see your child or any child consistently in the bed, swings, or confined to a bouncer, it is probably how he spends his/her day. Again I ask who is caring for your child? Disturbing video
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