Day Care Safety

Accidents happen, itís a fact of life, but when it happens to your child it can be devastating. Thatís why prevention is still the best cure. Being aware of the day care safety precautions at your facility can help set your mind at ease when it comes time to leave your child. Making sure that some of the standards and safety precautions set by the licensing boards are met is basic but there are also additional questions you may want to ask.

Daycare facilities have come under much scrutiny; the McMartin preschool trial in the late 1980ís put all parents on alert. It also brought to light that closer watch need be kept on our children in these environments. Employee background checks, surveillance cameras (hidden and not hidden) and monitoring devices are now the modus operandi of daycare facilities. These precautions help protect the daycare provider as well as the parent. But some basic day care safety items should still be verified by you, the parent, before leaving your child at any facility.

Are all the licenses up to date Have the current employees been checked out with background checks A thorough background check will include any past felony and misdemeanor convictions, including DUI, and also will check the stateís Sex Offender Registry. Make sure this has been done on all employees who come in contact with your child.

Is there a sign in sheet or another form of verification for picking up and dropping off your child Upon registering your child you would have been given a sheet to fill out which included a list of who is permitted to take your child from daycare. As an extra precaution, a special code word, that only you and your child knows, should be put into play. When someone other than yourself or a designated individual comes to pick up your child in the case of an emergency, your child would ask them the code word. This can help put your child at ease if you are unable to speak with him.

On a more physical level, take a look around the facility. You will want to make sure that all stairs and elevated surfaces are guarded, equipment such as jungle gyms has the falling surface area protected, and windows are protected.

Within the main rooms, especially if this is a family in-home provider, check for small spaces where a child can get trapped. Check for tripping hazards, sharp corners on furniture, splinters and sharp or rusty nails, electrical outlets that are not covered. The same safety precautions you take in your own home should be exercised at the facility.

The environment in general should be free of debris, small items that can be choking hazards, worn carpets or surfaces needing repair. Safety gates should be used where needed, window blind cords tied up or nonexistent, lists of recalled toys should be consulted and those toys removed.

The Consumer Products Safety Commissionís national study done in 1998 was conducted statewide in 220 licensed child care facilities. Two thirds of the facilities tested violated at least one safety hazard of the study. In 1997, nearly 31,000 children under the age of four were admitted to emergency rooms for injuries resulting from accidents at schools and child care environments. By following just a few precautions, every parent can do their part to see that their child never become this type of statistic.


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