How to choose a Georgia daycare?

If you’ve already experienced leaving something valuable inside your car, you’re familiar with the nagging feeling of fear for its safety. That feeling could be exponentially worse when what’s at stake is the thing most precious to you – your child.

In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services found that 2,237 daycare facilities all all-around the U.S. were abusing and neglecting children in their care1. So how do you know which of the thousands of childcare services in Georgia will give you the most peace of mind? 

Licensing and accreditation

A license is an assurance from the State of Georgia that a daycare facility can provide good care and education for your child. Ensuring you can go on with your day without worrying about your child’s welfare. But if you want to go above and beyond a State-issued license, look for a facility with a National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Accreditation. 

A NAEYC Accreditation is not mandatory for starting or maintaining a daycare facility; it’s a badge of honor that lets you know you’re looking at a top-quality daycare. You may access the database of NAEYC-accredited facilities through http://families.naeyc.org/search_programs/

Employee Qualifications

In 2020, parents from a Michigan township were outraged after finding out that a Tier 3 sex offender owned a popular daycare center – a category reserved for those who committed the most severe crimes. The parents said they were shocked because the owner was always polite and dependable and not capable of the crime he was convicted for – sexually assaulting a minor. You might want to confirm that every employee passed a criminal background check no matter how nice they seem. 

Next, make sure the employees and teachers have the basics in certification and training. In Georgia, all employees have 90 days from the date of hire to obtain the new federal health and safety orientation training and First Aid/CPR. The state also has a mandatory list of technical and practical credentials for child care employees, and you may check them out at: http://geears.org/wp-content/uploads/Georgia-Child-Care-Licensing-Requirements-Infants-Toddlers.pdf.

Employee-child ratio

In Utah, a two-year-old died from suffocation when a daycare employee sat on the beanbag he was hiding underneath. It took 15 minutes before employees realized he was underneath. The child’s mother said she thinks the tragedy stemmed from the fact that there were too many children in the class at the same time. The NAEYC prescribes the ideal caregiver-child ratios based on age groups2. For infants under 15 months old, the ratio should be 1:4. For toddlers up to 2.5 years old, the recommended ratio is 1:4, and for preschool-aged kids up to 4 years old, the recommended ratio is 1:6. The more hands are on deck, the better. 

Employee turnover

When choosing daycare centers, employee turnover is not something parents would be concerned about at first – if not at all, but you might want to investigate it. It’s a given that employees quit for many reasons like convenience, personal matters, or opportunities elsewhere. But high employee turnover may also be a glaring red flag.

Any work environment that doesn’t compensate or treat employees well will result in disgruntled employees. Since daycare is a very stressful environment, putting unhappy, overworked, or underpaid employees in charge of looking after multiple children is never a good idea regarding the quality of work and child safety.

Cleanliness

Children undergo significant brain development between the ages of 18-24 months. To stimulate their oral sensory system, children put everything and anything in their mouths at this age. Even older children prioritize curiosity before inquiry. Picture your child in a daycare facility that never washes the toys or sanitizes surfaces. 

Every day you arrive at your daycare means you’ll be putting your children’s lives in their hands. An unsanitary daycare means they’re not dedicated enough to care about your child’s health.

Safety

According to the U.S. Poison Control Center, for every 1000 children under the age of 6, 39.4 were exposed to poison in 2019.3 So, does your daycare have emergency contact numbers, such as poison control and the hospital, posted somewhere highly visible for easy reference? Is the playground safe? Last year, a 3-year-old girl was killed in a freak accident on a South Dakota daycare facility playground when a rope became tangled around her neck. Are there safeguards against children climbing high places? These may sound trivial, but childproofing is often overlooked enough to cost thousands of children their lives each year.  Does the facility hold fire and earthquake drills? Are the employees capable of conducting CPR or the Heimlich Maneuver? If the staff has no training or knowledge to handle emergency procedures, don’t hesitate to walk away. 

Good curriculum

The NAEYC defines “curriculum” as a guide for teachers and administrators that helps them work together and balance different activities and approaches to maximize children’s learning and development. A well-written curriculum includes goals for the content that children are learning, planned activities linked to these goals, daily schedules and routines, and materials in use.

While the NAEYC does not prescribe a specific form or substance of curriculum, it recommends that a daycare program’s curriculum address all aspects of child development where children have opportunities to learn and develop through exploration and play. Activities should help children get better at reasoning, solving problems, getting along with others, using language, and developing other skills.

Please make sure the daycare will always make its curriculum readily available to you to give you the chance to review it and always to let you keep track of your child’s development. 

Positive reviews

Listen to reviews from previous and current parents. If bad comments come up repeatedly, you should start assessing whether those problems will pose threats to your child’s safety and development. 

It's the small things.

Aside from the tangible “flags,” you can learn a lot about a daycare by simply observing the children and teachers. Do the children seem naturally relaxed? Do the children seem tense around a specific teacher? What kind of vibe does the place give off? Do the employees look happy? You can’t teach children to act happy when they’re not. So, if an engaging staff and jolly children greet you, the environment is most likely just as positive even when no parent is watching. 

If you suspect your child has been subject to abuse while attending a daycare center, contact the experience daycare abuse attorneys at Council & Associates today.

1. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. (2019). Child Maltreatment 2017. Available from https://www.acf.hhs.gov/

2. https://www.naeyc.org/sites/default/files/globally-shared/downloads/PDFs/accreditation/early-learning/staff_child_ratio_0.pdf

3. https://www.poison.org/poison-statistics-national

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