How to Choose a Safe Daycare

Choosing the right daycare is an important decision. As a parent, you want to be sure that your child is safe and well cared for. Knowing what to look for when choosing a quality, safe daycare can be overwhelming.

As Birmingham personal injury lawyers, we at Hare Wynn understand how devastating it can be when a child is hurt. So we have put together a guide to help families choose a safe daycare.

Childproof Spaces

Make sure the daycare provides a safe environment for kids. Signs of a safe daycare environment include:

  • No choking hazards, including small toys or playthings that can break apart into small pieces
  • No pillows or fluffy bedding in cribs; babies should be put to sleep on their backs
  • Gates on open stairways
  • Window guards on upstairs windows
  • Locked doors so children can’t roam freely
  • Kitchen and bathroom areas cleaned thoroughly and regularly
  • Good sanitary practices (ex: handwashing after each diaper change, feeding utensils that are disposable or washed in a dishwasher)
  • Ideally, an enclosed outdoor space for play
  • Clear floors (i.e., not littered with toys)
  • Smoke detectors, clearly marked exits, and fire extinguishers
  • Adult visitors are closely supervised, only staff and authorized grownups can enter

Long-Term Staff/Low-Turnover Rates

A high turnover rate is a red flag that could mean the staff isn’t paid enough or isn’t qualified. Familiar faces also make children feel more comfortable and secure in daycare.

Licensing Standards

A state license means the daycare has met government-set health and safety standards. Do your research and find out if a facility is licensed or registered. Are they currently accredited or in the process of getting accreditation? Does the daycare have outstanding violations?

Child to Caregiver Ratio

Children need individual attention to thrive. If staff is spread too thin, the risk they’ll fail to spot a safety hazard increases. Local requirements for caregiver-to-child ratio differ, but it takes more staff to watch younger children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following maximum child to staff ratios by age:

  • 12 months – 3:1
  • 13-35 months – 4:1
  • 3-year olds – 7:1
  • 4-year olds – 8:1
  • 5-year olds – 8:1
  • 6 to 8-year olds – 10:1
  • 9 to 12-year olds – 12:1

Trained Daycare Staff

Caregivers should be trained in CPR and first aid. The director of a group daycare center should have a degree in early childhood education, while teachers should have training in that field or early childhood development.

Ask the following questions when visiting a daycare:

  • What type of additional training has the staff had during the past year?
  • Do outside experts provide training?
  • How long have the staff worked at the center?
  • How much experience do they have with children of your child’s age?

Written Policies

The American Academy of Pediatrics states that a daycare center should have a written policy for each of the following areas:

  • Health standards
  • Illness
  • Medication
  • Nutrition
  • Discipline
  • Transportation
  • Media
  • Outdoor play

You want to find a daycare that aligns with your parenting philosophy on issues like feeding, discipline, soothing, etc. What snacks and drinks are the kids given? Are time-outs or consequences used?

You also want to make sure the daycare has policies designed to ensure children’s safety and well-being. If there are outings at the daycare, are the proper car seats, booster seats, and seat belts used?

As’s guide to choosing a quality daycare explains, some daycares may not require children to be fully immunized, especially if they are unlicensed. You should choose a daycare that requires age-appropriate vaccinations. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health notes that childcare facilities are at high risk for measles transmission.

Caregivers should have had complete medical checkups, including a TB test, and received all their vaccinations. There should be clear guidelines about sick kids staying home and a time frame for parents to pick up kids who become ill.

On-Call Healthcare Consultant

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, center-based infant-toddler programs should be visited by a health professional at least once a month, and all other child care programs should be visited at least once every 3 months.

Ask if there is a qualified health professional, such as a doctor or nurse, for the program. Make sure the facility can get in touch with a healthcare professional if there is an emergency.

We Can Help If Your Child Was Hurt in an Unsafe Daycare

If your child was hurt due to the negligence of a daycare, we can help you pursue the compensation you deserve. For more than 130 years, Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton has been helping victims and their families. We have recovered over two billion dollars on behalf of our clients.

Call 800-568-5330 or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation today.

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