Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Daycare

Daycare Submitted by- Kirstin

When my daughter was about 2 months old I was fortunate to find an opening at a highly recommended child care center. The woman, Sheila* that ran the center was amazing. Talk about a tight ship! Every parent received a copy of the facilities mission statement, discipline policies and curriculum for the class room their child would be in, even infant rooms. Meals were relatively nutritious, a mix of in bulk foods, baked from scratch items and fresh seasonal fruits and veggies. The child/staff ratio was low, super clean facilities (all of the toys and classrooms were sanitized every night) and reasonable rates. Most important, was the staff and the scheduling. Every staff person I dealt with seemed to truly enjoy their job. Most were either trained in Early Childhood Education, former teachers or were currently studying one or the other. They were scheduled in such a way, that they were able to review curriculum, develop lesson plans, request supplies and take regular breaks. It was wonderful. Everyday I received a report that included times and amounts of what my daughter ate, activities she had participated in and any other notes the staff wanted to share with me; concerns, accomplishments, heads up on messy art projects, etc. Her diaper was checked every hour and the report even included whether or not she was wet or poopy or both. My daughter went for over a year and I was never disappointed by anything I saw or heard about the center.

One day, I was introduced to the owner’s daughter, Jodi*. Sheila was retiring and her daughter was taking over. They assured me they were doing everything possible to make the transition a smooth one and I had no reason to doubt that. A couple of months went by without any significant changes. Then, one day, everything changed. Suddenly, the cook was gone and instead the staff was sharing the responsibility of preparing snacks and lunches. Then the staff started disappearing some of whom were never replaced. The replacements that did appear looked like they had recently been released from a correctional facility. And then their boyfriends and friends started ‘hanging out’, an equally unsavory bunch all stinking of cigarettes and some of booze. I cringed every time I picked my daughter up or dropped her off and Jodi’s creepy husband was there, smiling and commenting on what a cutie she was. I assumed he did not work because he seemed to always be there. Suddenly, there were signs of wear and tear in the building and on the playground. I stopped getting daily reports. I no longer witnessed staff cleaning their class rooms or sanitizing toys when I came to pick my child up and often the children had runny noses, dirty hands and tidbits from lunch still on their clothes. There was a change in my daughter too. She was no longer excited about seeing her friends or her teacher at daycare. She wasn’t making as much progress learning her ABC’s and numbers like she had before. She was getting diaper rashes more frequently and her eczema seemed to flare up more often and take longer to heal. Potty training came to a complete halt. None of what she was learning at home was being reinforced at day care. I started quietly looking for a new place for my little girl.

While shopping, I ran into a former employee. Stacey* had been in the infant room when I first started taking my daughter there. I told her how disappointed I was in many of the changes that had taken place in that last month. Stacey told me that she had mentioned some of her concerns to Jodi and within a week she was fired for not showing up for her scheduled shift (a shift she had never worked before and was not on her schedule when she checked it). Stacey tried to contact as many of the parents whose numbers she knew or could find about her concerns. She told me that all of the changes were to make the business more profitable. Jodi fired or pushed out nearly all of the old staff and hired people who didn’t expect to make more than minimum wage. None of them were trained in early childhood development and most of them didn’t know CPR. The children were put in time-out for extended periods of time. Some of the workers were even raising their voices and swearing. Infants with respiratory issues were being handled by employees who were moments before, smoking just outside the building. The meals and snacks were now comprised of prepackaged, over processed crap that gets thrown in a microwave day after day. The staff was no longer paid for their planning periods, breaks or clean up and she’d done away with the cleaning service that came once a month to do the major cleaning (windows, duct work, ovens, etc.) Stacey had even taken her concerns to Sheila, who confided in her that she had retired due to illness. She had trusted her daughter to run the business the way she had and when she tried to approach Jodi about the changes she was making, Jodi ignored her. Stacey and I felt so strongly about what was happening we decided to try and get other former staff members and parents involved. We got in contact with as many as we could and tried to come up with a plan. Unfortunately, none of the changes Jodi had made were illegal so the state would not pull her license.

Between the twenty or so parents and staff members we began a parenting ‘co-op’ of sorts. Many of us had varied schedules and found that, with a little juggling and the help of some very supportive employers, we were all able to make other arrangements for our children. The shake up in our usual routines took some getting used to but we were all grateful to have our children back in the hands of people we really trusted.
There are a lot of really terrific people, like Sheila, with great child care facilities, in home or not. Unfortunately, the state does not discern between ‘great’ and ‘passable’ so it behooves us as parents to do some serious investigating and to take action when we see or even suspect something that seems off. We later learned that the ‘creepy husband’ was a registered sex offender. It took nearly a year and new legislation that made the sex offender registry viewable by the public to get the state to pull the day care’s license. By that time, it was near closure anyway having lost the majority of the kids who had attended, some from infancy through pre-k.

Our kids deserve GREAT places to go when Mommies and Daddies have to work!

*The names have been changed.

1 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sounds a bit like the daycare I had put my daughter into when she was 10 months old in Australia. I pulled her out after only four days. Staff seemed disinterested and I don't recall seeing any "happy" children, including my daughter who was always happy in all other care situations. Each day I picked her up you could see she had been crying a lot, sadly just like the other kids there. Some of whom I witnessed being ignored and eventually crying themselves to sleep in a jumparoo type device. The place wasn't as clean as one would expect and the day my daughter came home with a welt on her tummy was the last straw. They swore they didn't know how it happened, weren't even aware of it apparently. Odd since one of the girls was changing her nappy when I picked her up. I have since realized what it was from, they used to put her in a mechanical swing thing which had a seatbelt, this is what gave her the welt. They had pinched her poor tummy in it and I can only imagine how much she would have screamed. I learned this to be the case after my 15 yo daughter was putting her sister in her car seat recently and accidentally pinched her. Same mark and they had the hide to lie to me. Anyway, in conclusion my daughter is now 21 months old and is still not back in daycare due to my experience.

Post a Comment

Do you have a story to share?


Please mail me at: huggz@ymail.com


Please include your name (if you want credit for your work)


A link to your blog or website (optional)



Followers

My Blog List