A friend's friend shared this link to help our mutual friend (I have so many friends today..) find a good daycare. I thought I'd share the assessment of our children's primary residence and caregivers for reference. Please know that I'm not really mocking this list as important ideals for a professional caregiver, just having a little fun at my own "bad mom" expense.
Are children supervised at all times, even when they are sleeping?
No. If the kids are sleeping you can be quite certain no one is supervising them. That would impede on the precious time for ignoring housework and checking email.
How do the caregivers discipline children? (Hint: Discipline should be positive, clear, consistent, and fair.)
This largely depends on how many times someone else in the house totally unrelated to the current moment, child, or incident has annoyed the caregiver today. It will almost surely not be consistent and everyone will deem it unfair.
Handwashing and Diapering
Do all caregivers and children wash their hands often, especially before eating and after using the bathroom or changing diapers?
The caregivers wash their hands so da** often they are cracked and bleeding, but let's just be real. Sometimes we're still eating while changing the diapers and if I stopped to wash my hands before every bite of food I manage to sneak I'd never get one. Like Pavlov's dogs, the kids would learn that running water means there's food available and they'd mob me every time I'm just trying to sneak a few tortilla chips.
Is the place where diapers are changed clean?
Right now? Sure. Probably. I mean, there are no smears on the walls (although the mirror is covered in hand prints and face smears...) and if something gets on the changing pad blanket thing it gets tossed in the wash and replaced, but there's also a basket of laundry, a garbage can, and the occasional dirty tissue laying around so judge as you see fit.
Do caregivers always keep a hand on the child while diapering?
No. Caregivers are trying to cram the last bit of granola bar in their mouth using their elbow while extracting locks of hair from the hand of babies and shaking open the clean diaper.
Do caregivers remove the soiled diaper without dirtying any surface not already in contact with stool or urine?
Usually. But, kids are twisty little things and can find a way to shove a foot in the worst diaper of the month or kick over the nasty diaper while you're getting the tabs of the new one just so.
Do caregivers clean and sanitize the surface after finishing the changing process? (Hands should be scrubbed with soap and warm running water for at least 20 seconds and then rinsed and dried. The water faucet should be turned off with a paper towel.)
No. Just no.
Does the director of a child care center have a bachelor's degree in a child-related field?
Has the director worked in child care for at least two years?
Yes! Although at the beginning, no.
Does the director understand what children need to grow and learn?
Healthy food, as little tv (even "educational tv") as possible, sunshine, dirt, and absolute support from their caregivers.
Lead Teacher Qualifications
Does the lead teacher in a child care center have a bachelor's degree in a child-related field?
Has the teacher worked in child care for at least one year?
Yes! Again, though, not at the beginning.
Does the teacher give children lessons and toys that are right for their ages?
I think so, but others may disagree. But then, my kids aren't defined by their ages, only their interests and actual abilities. So my 6 year old cooks on the stovetop and in the oven and uses real knives and my 7 year old has her own full-scale sewing machine. The two year old does puzzles for 4 year olds. And yet, none of them know how to do a single thing on a touch-screen device. We're failing at the age-appropriate thing, but nailing the interest-and-ability-appropriate thing.
Child:Staff Ratio and Group Size
How many children are being cared for in the child care program?
How many caregivers are there? (Your child will get more attention if each caregiver has fewer children to care for. The younger the children are, the more caregivers there should be. For example, one family home caregiver should only take care of two infants.)
Not enough, where enough = N+1 and N= Number of people willing to watch the kids; and the +1 is me. Also, only two infants? So, triplets are ruled out?
Is your child up-to-date on all of the required immunizations?
Yes! We're so good at this one.
Does the child care program have records proving that the other children in care are up-to-date on all their required immunizations?
Yes! And they're neatly photocopied, hole punched, and stored in a three ring binder under "medical information" because I am NAILING this section.
Are toxic substances like cleaning supplies and pest killers kept away from children?
Yes. 3 for 3 here.
Has the building been checked for dangerous substances like radon, lead and asbestos?
There goes that streak. I want to say we did, but then we found out we had lead paint on, oh, the WHOLE HOUSE, so no?
Is poison control information posted?
No. Well, maybe. I think there's an informative magnet on the fridge underneath the expired coupons and pictures of our nephew.
Does the child care program have an emergency plan if a child is injured, sick, or lost?
Does freaking out and running through the streets yelling their name count as a plan?
Does the child care program have first-aid kits?
Yes. They are mostly empty because the children find bandaids to be an irresistible substitute to tape, but the kits are present in the house.
Does the child care program have information about who to contact in an emergency?
Does the child care program have a plan in case of a disaster like a fire, tornado, flood, blizzard, or earthquake?
The program director lays awake at night and imagines these thing in painful, vivid, heart-stopping detail. As for plans, it depends on how many of these disasters are imagined at the same moment. The furniture will get thrown out of the burning house into the flood waters and then the children tossed onto the floating air mattress and covered in as many blankets as we can find until the blizzard passes. The earthquake should provide enough waves to push us to safety, provided the tornado does not re-route us.
Does the child care program do practice drills once every month?
No. We barely remember to do baths once every month.
Can caregivers be seen by others at all times, so a child is never alone with one caregiver?
See our motto: "The fewer adults in the room, the better"
Have all caregivers undergone background check?
Yes. Thanks to the adoption paperwork, I can give this one a solid YES.
Have the caregivers been trained on how to prevent child abuse, how to recognize signs of child abuse, and how to report suspected child abuse?
There's not much funny to say about child abuse, so moving on...
Does the child care program keep medication out of reach from children?
They did, but the children learned to climb. They moved them again, but the children learned to climb even more. Locks are merely fun puzzles. Medication is now left in the box with the toys which are bypassed as utterly dull things in favor of whatever is hidden in the cabinets.
Are the caregivers trained and the medications labeled to make sure the right child gets the right amount of the right medication at the right time?
There are strategically placed post-it notes in every relevant cabinet. That handles right child and right amount; timing is mostly left up to fate.
Staff Training/First Aid
Have caregivers been trained how to keep children healthy and safe from injury and illness?
No, the GOD training has not worked out well. If someone has this manual, please send it to me immediately.
Do they know how to do first aid and rescue breathing?
Like all parents, they are confident they will figure it out in the crisis moment because life has taught us nothing, apparently.
Have they been trained to understand and meet the needs of children of different ages?
They figure it out day by day.
Are all child care staff, volunteers, and substitutes trained on and implementing infant back sleeping and safe sleep policies to reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, crib death)? (When infants are sleeping, are they on their backs with no pillows, quilts, stuffed toys, or other soft bedding in the crib with them?)
Training: Check. Implementing: well, we're not currently housing any infants so sure. In reality, infant sleep tends to involve a baby sleeping on a caregiver dozing or reading in a rumpled mess of pillows and quilts and stray stuffed animals generously shared by older children. When placed in a separate crib (that one time), it was back-sleeping compliant.
Is the playground regularly inspected for safety?
At least twice a summer the adults decide to attempt to use the monkey bars and swing and then intensely regret that idea.
Is the playground surrounded by a fence?
Yes! Yes it is!
If there is a sandbox, is it clean?
Define "clean". It's a sandbox. Outside. It has a liner and a cover, but it is also infested with mulch-covered children 25 times a day who find it fun to bury pine cones and twigs as treasure.
Are the soil and playground surfaces checked often for dangerous substances and hazards?
Ok, alright, I see what you're getting at here. Yes, ok, fine, there's dog poop in the yard. Are you happy now?
Is equipment the right size and type for the age of children who use it?
Have you ever seen a two year old not go directly for the 9-12 year old playset? It seems just right according to them.