By: Debby Hoffer
Security, Safety and Health
Security, safety and health are common concerns when evaluating a daycare center. Many centers are designed with just one entrance that is situated away from the classrooms. La Petite Academy is one such center that has a separate lobby entrance. Classrooms can only be accessed by those with the combination to the coded keypad security system. Each child at La Petite is checked in and out via electronic key pad every day. Only parents and other persons authorized to pick up and drop off a child are given a pin number. All visitors are required to state the purpose of their visit, sign a visitors log and show proper identification. Anyone picking up a child at the La Petite Academy that is not familiar with the staff is required to show proper identification. Staff members also keep on file an updated list of all persons allowed to pick up and drop off each individual child. Tutor Time, another national daycare center boasts a Safe’n’Sound system which stores and gives staff instant access to important medical and authorization information. Tutor Time also utilizes security cameras and observation windows so that all children can be closely monitored. These security and tracking measures are what a parent should look for in a quality daycare center. A daycare center with lax security policies should be a red flag for any parent.
Safety within the daycare center is just as important as security. Child-friendly furniture, covered electrical outlets are just a few of the things that parents should look for. Quality outside playground equipment with well-maintained paint and ground cover is also important to a child’s safety. An evacuation plan should be in place for emergency situations and parents should ask about each center’s emergency policies. Staff members should be trained in CPR and other lifesaving procedures. Policies regarding the prevention of any staff member abusing a child should be in place with backup staff checking on daycare providers throughout the day. A time-out or other non-abusive discipline policy should be in place for preschool and older children should they exhibit disruptive behavior. Babies, infants and toddlers should be well supervised and not be allowed to wonder off into dangerous situations.
Transportation and Field Trips
If a daycare center provides transportation, be sure that the center has adequate insurance. All field trips should be closely supervised by the daycare center staff and parents should fill out a permission slip which tells where their child is going and when they will return. During field trips, some centers provide an additional measure of security by providing name tags which state the child’s name and the daycare center’s address. Daycare center drivers should be of mature age and have a good driving record. If a daycare center is to pick up your child after school, a designated pick up time and meeting place is important and the staff driver needs to have a proven record of dependability.
Nutrition and meals
Food safety is also something to consider. Infants and babies should be held when fed. Propping a bottle up to a wall or other object to feed an infant or baby is dangerous and should not be allowed in a daycare setting. Proper sized eating utensils and furniture should be provided for all children and eating time should be closely monitored by the center’s staff. The temperature of beverages should be monitored and drinks such as hot chocolate should not be served unless preventive measures are taken to prevent accidental spillage. Food preparation staff should be trained in the nutritional requirements for small children and trained and certified in food handling procedures. Menus should be prepared in advance for parents to review and ensure that their child is receiving wholesome, nutritional meals.
Staff and Children Health
A quality day care center will have a strict health policy designed to prevent sickness and to promote good personal hygiene among children and staff. Strict hand washing procedures should be followed with staff members making sure that the children wash their hands after activities and before eating. Staff members need to be alert and wash a child’s hands if they come into contact with anything dirty or contaminated. Health histories with medical information for each child should be kept on file. Staff members who are ill should stay home and children with runny noses, coughs, sore throats, or any other ailments should be kept home or sent home should symptoms develop during the day. Vomiting, bleeding, diarrhea, and constipation are also good reasons a child should stay home. Staff members should wash hands frequently and disinfectant wipes should be readily available for little messes that need to be handled quickly.
Quality daycare is essential to the development and success of your child. Make a list of daycare centers in your area and then ask questions, meet the staff and take a general tour. Never be afraid to question anything or anyone that your child will come into contact with during the day. Daycare centers across the country have a very good track record but parents need to be interested and stay well informed of the daycare environment for their child.
We suggest the following links:
Information on the Le Petite Academy.
Information on Tutor Time daycare center.
Enter your zip code to find the average cost of average daycare in your area.