What to Look for in a Day Care Center by Parents? Questions to Ask - Safety Tips

When a parent is searching for or selecting a day care center, there should be questions asked, a day care center visit, and an interview with the manager or owner of the day care center. Far too often, the proper questions and follow up are only done after a child is enrolled in a day care center and after a child suffers an injury in a day care center. There are a number of factors to consider when selecting a day care center including the following: costs, location, hours, capacity, staff, programs, education, staff, and other factors. For many parents, the options are quite limited because of budget restrictions and geography. Nevertheless, in most communities, there is more than one day care center to choose from. Here are some questions to ask and information to gather about a day care center.

Licensure. Does the day care center have a license? While this seems like a very basic question, many day care centers operate without a license when a license is required. Some, due to size or religious exemption, do not require a day care center license. If a day care center license is in place, there is some oversight and inspection by state and local authorities. This, in turn, can spot safety and license violations that may be safety hazards to the children. A day care center that follows the rules and gets the proper license in place is typically a better option than a day care center that is operating off of the grid.

Inspection Reports. If the day care center is licensed, you can request a copy of the prior inspection reports and surveys completed by the child licensing authority. This may provide you some insight as to prior problems and the general operation of the facility.

Staff to Child Ratio. Ask the day care center about staffing and enrollment? It is important that the day care center comply with the recommended staff to child ratio requirements. If the day care center does not have this information readily available for you, that is a warning sign to possibly select a different day care center. Diligent day care centers know the importance of staff to child ratios as compliance typically results in better and more consistent supervision compared to facilities that do not track or compile this information.

Training and Eduction. Ask about the training of the staff members caring for the children and managing the facility? You can ask for the information and documentation regarding each staff member. Certainly, the staff members providing direct care for your child and other children should have training and education in the areas of early child care, emergency procedures, and CPR.

Background Checks. Ask if each staff member has been subjected to a criminal background check and employment screening? A criminal background check should be performed and kept on file for each employee. Furthermore, it is helpful if the day care center otherwise checked on the employees prior employment especially if the employee worked at another day care center or child care provider.

Video Surveillance. Ask if the facility has video surveillance in place? If so, find out the areas with video surveillance, if the video surveillance is stored or saved on a server, and if there is any access to the video surveillance by parents. While this is not a "make it" or "break it" condition of enrollment, it is often helpful if there is video surveillance on the premises of the day care center. This will help document the care provided and also help deter "bad acts" on part of the day care center staff.

Documentation. Ask about how the daily activities are documented? Ask about how the care provided to your child is documented? While supervision is the most important task of any child care provider, documentation can make a difference. For instance, if a log is kept as to diaper changes, it is more likely that your child's diaper will be changed on a regular basis.

While this is not an exhaustive list of all factors to consider in selecting a day care center, the list does provide areas to review when considering a day care center. Ask questions. Be proactive. Once the child is enrolled in the day care center, visit frequently. Visit at different hours if possible. Ask more questions. Make sure that the day care center knows who you are. Be polite and friendly. Make sure that the facility knows who you are and communicates on a consistent basis with you.

Based in Jacksonville, Florida, David Wolf is a personal injury and child injury attorney who handles cases throughout the State of Florida and often is consulted by other attorneys in and beyond the State of Florida. He is the author of 11 books that focus on personal injury and child safety issues including the book titled Florida Day Care Center Injuries - Legal Rights of the Injured Child - Building Blocks of Knowledge for Parents. This book has chapters on Florida Day Care Center Negligence, General Laws and Regulations, Indoor Facilities, Supervision of Children, Parental Visitation, Discipline and Punishment of Children, Transportation, Fire Drills and Emergency Procedures, Staff Requirements, and Records. You can get this book by filling out the Contact Form on this Website. For over 26 years, David Wolf has been a fierce advocate for injury victims and firmly believes in Giving a Voice to Injured Children.

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