Daycare Adult to Child Ratios
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Daycare Adult to Child Ratios
Editor Note: Adult-to-child ratios in daycares and preschools are regulated
by the California Community Care Licensing Division.
For general guidelines and numbers, see
About Childcare Licensing in California.
The preschool that my child goes to has two teachers that are
well loved and respected. They both have babies under a year
old. One teacher started bringing her newborn to school, which
we figured was a temporary thing because they were short on
teachers and really wanted her to return from maternity leave.
But this year another teacher started doing it as well.
Apparently this is fine with the director as it is not uncommon
to see baby jumpers hanging from the doorway of her office. And
both teachers are often seen carrying their babies in bjorns
while in the classroom. I just don't know how safe this is for
the other children that are paying tuition. Isn't it a
hinderance to have an infant to attend to (or to have strapped
to your body) especially if they need to run after one of the
students or keep them from getting hurt? I know it must be hard
to juggle a baby with having to work, but I can't help but feel
that my child is getting the short end of the stick in this
situation. Besides the fact that it's also unprofessional, are
there laws against this in the classroom? I don't think anyone
has yet to bring it up to the director because we all love the
teachers so much and don't want to see them go. And it's not
really their fault. So what would you do?
Not Sure If I Should Be Worried
One concern might be whether the additional babies pushes the
total number of kids over the legal limit for the number of
adults present, per age group. The care-takers' own children are
included in that total. The permitted ratio is lower for babies
than pre-schoolers, but I don't have precise numbers. It also
depends on the setting, I believe (home vs. center-based
day-care), so you might want to check into that. On the other
hand, if there is enough adult presence for the number of kids,
and it isn't detracting from the enrolled children getting the
care they need, it's a great perk for the teachers. Happy
teachers are more likely to stay around!
I would be proud to bring
my child to a school where the teachers are allowed to wear their
babies. It is setting a wonderful parenting example for the
children. Of course they can run after the children. The teacher
will just have to support the baby's head with a hand. Many
people have babies and toddlers at home. They do just fine. Why
would you want to cause problems for a school which is treating
its employees so respectfully, has a great teacher, and is
instructing the preschoolers on how to be an attached parent?
Maybe you should look elsewhere if you'd prefer a place that has
the teachers put their infants in daycare.
dont see a problem
Hi- These women, as preschool teachers, probably couldn't afford
to pay for childcare on what they earn. They may not be able to
afford to stay home. I think it's terrific that the school, as
an employer, supports children in the workplace.
I think it would be nice if we all, as mothers, tried to support
each other. It takes a village to raise a child, right? Remember
that your school is part of the community and that we all have a
responsibility to each other. Look for the positive- it will be
exciting for the children to watch these babies grow, especially
for those who don't have younger siblings. It's a wonderful
learning opportunity for you child, and he gets to keep the two
teachers he knows and loves.
As long as the school is keeping approprate adult to child ratios
and is making sensible safety accomodations, such as one adult
present not carrying a baby, I see no issue. I think it's
wonderful. Give it a chance.
There is a licensing law that states that non-ambulatory day
care children cannot be mixed with ambulatory day care
children. Even though the director of your school may try to
claim the babies are not enrolled in the school, Licensing will
count them in the school's count and probably cite the school
for being over-capacity, if that is the case, and for mixing
ambulatory and non-ambulatory kids, which will cause everyone
headaches, and most likely result in fines.
You should discuss this with the director and let her know that
you are not telling her to complain, but to help protect the
school's parents and its reputation from being tarnished with
unnecessary licensing violations, which will be public. (All
it takes is one parent complaining to Licensing to get them out
there to investigate.)
one who knows licensing laws
Sounds like we may have our children in the same preschool or maybe it's just
coincidence but I don't see a problem with the babies being worn by the
moms or watched around the premises by other staff as long as the teachers
abilities to perform their job is not compromised. The school my child attends
more than enough aides to pick up any slack or to run after the occasional
child (which doesn't happen too much inside--more on the playground). I figure
once the babies become more active, i.e. not satisfied with being
the moms will have to make a decision on where to put them. The 2 teachers at
sons' school are so fantastic at what they do I welcome their babies being
if it keeps them in the school rather than quitting to be home with them. If
is losing here in this scenario it is the teacher-moms who must be completely
out by the end of the work day! Besides, the babies are not too far away from
joining the infant room. Finally if you are really concerned you should
the director know what your specific fears/concerns are so she has an
to address them.
I disagree that bringing your baby to work, especially in a
daycare environment, is ''unprofessional.'' This country has far
FAR too few family-friendly workplaces, and I think your
preschool is really cutting-edge in terms of promoting a
workplace environment that works for both parents and workers.
I work for a government office (granted, a very progressive one
in a progressive county) that has a baby-friendly policy that
allows employees to bring their baby to work for the first year
of life. That policy has considerably reduced the turnover
rate in our agency, improved the quality of employees, and
increased the satisfaction and loyalty of workers. As long as
it doesn't negatively impact the working conditions of another
employee, it's fine. I think we should be celebrating and
commending employers for reducing the burden of an impossible
balancing act for parents who work. If more employers were
family-friendly like your preschool, there would be far more
skilled, professional, content and capable women in the
workforce. Bravo to the director of your preschool! (As a
side note- IF and WHEN you actually see a decline in the care
that your child recieves, then it would be appropriate to raise
the issue of the quality of care at the school with the
my two cents
My son attends a co-op preschool. Unless children under two
are strapped to parent, in stroller/carseat etc. during drop-
off and pick-up our school can be fined a very large (I think
1000 dollar) fine by licensing, should they happen to see this,
which did happen to one of our sister co-op preschools. In
order to have babes at school during the school day we must
stay within mandated parent-teacher ratios and have a safe
playspace for the babes that the over 2 yr olds cannot access.
You should check the licensing requirements for your particular
preschool configuration to determine what is kosher - these
rules are mandated by the state, I'm pretty sure you can look
them up online and different regions have advocacy reps you can
contact with questions - this is probably posted at your
preschool somewhere. Co-ops are subject to different (more
limiting) rules than are other - teacher driven - schools - and
you may be licensed to include a certain numbers of children in
various specific age-groups. I can't really weigh in on if
your child is getting an inferior experience in the presence of
newborns. I think this is a very individual decision that you
should discuss with other parents and with your teachers. I
tend to want to support new mothers and their bonding with
their babes as much as possible. Unfortunately, it is very
hard to obtain proper maternity leave in this tight economic
climate. And difficult to find qualfied educators as well.
And we've lost the art of raising our children in community and
weaving them into the fabric of our worklives. My advise: make
sure you are not in violation of licensing so there is no
unexpected punative action, but solve this with discussion, not
bout to have a babe - how will I do it all with 2...?
I don't know anything about the legality of bringing a baby to
work at a preschool, but I think your concerns about your child
getting the ''short end of the stick'' may be a bit extreme.
As a mom who had her caregiver bring her two children (ages 4 and
6) to work with her while she cared for my son (age 2) and
newborn, I can tell you that it was a great experience for my
kids and for my caregiver. She was so grateful to have her kids
with her that it made her even more dedicated and attentive to my
kids. My children learned about sharing and taking turns and how
to socialize with older kids as a result of the experience, which
better prepared my son for the arrival of his younger sibling and
later, for preschool.
Obviously this is not an apples to apples comparison to your
situation, but if you don't notice any difference in the quality
of care or learning your child is doing, I would leave well
enough alone. Just because something isn't the traditional way
to go doesn't mean it's inherently bad. That said, if your gut
or your child's ACTUAL experience are telling you that his
quality of care is declining as a result of this situation, you
must speak up. Don't allow your love of the teacher to deter you
from doing what is in your child's best interest.
As my final two cents, I will add that I have to imagine that at
the point that the babies in question are mobile and potentially
disruptive to the class the teachers will have to make other
arrangements or enroll them as students! In the meantime, it
seems to me like it might be an unexpected benefit to your child
that you should welcome. I think it's great that your child is
in such a family-friendly environment.
school is going to let teachers bring their babies in, then they
ought to tell prospective parents about this policy up front so
the parents have the option to not pick that school if they
disagree with the policy.
My youngest child went to a preschool co-op where parents with
babies could bring them on their work day as long as the baby was
in a front pack or backpack. When the babies started walking they
couldn't come anymore. There were 4 or 5 moms who came with
babies on their weekly participation day. I think this was nice
for the moms, but truthfully these moms were way more preoccupied
with their babies than with the children at the preschool. Since
she was only one of five parents participating, and since there
was also a teacher there, it didn't matter so much -- the other
parents without babies could pitch in. But you said there are
only two teachers, and one of them is caring for an infant. I
think all of us know that if we have a baby with us, even if
we're hands-free because baby is in a sling, our attention is
going to be on that baby a good part of the time, and the
preschoolers are going to get less attention. I personally would
not be very happy about this if I were in your place.
My older child went to a preschool co-op that had a no siblings
policy. It provided inexpensive sibling care on site for the
parents (like me) who had babies. The director explained that
when parents brought their babies in on participation day, they
just weren't able to fully participate, and that is the truth!
I know when we were in that stage, we had a wonderful preschool
situation with wonderful teachers. MOST of them had kids at
that time or later while they were teachers. They cut back
their hours as you would at any job. We would see the babies
occasionally - they may see them at lunch, etc., a little more
often than you could at any other job. I feel it would get in
the way definitely. Can you imagine taking care of your baby...
PLUS eight other little kids. The quality is going to suffer
somewhere and it won't be with their own babies. If you haven't
already, maybe talk to other parents and see if they share your
concerns, then I would communicate openly with the teachers.
I'm sure other people will post with good food for thought!
Preschool and daycare teachers are really tough to come by --
especially loved and respected ones. My guess is that your
director is making some special accommodations so that your child
can continue to benefit from the teachers' talents. Otherwise,
the school would probably lose the teachers. If you are really
bothered by the situation, then bring it up with the director.
Perhaps she thinks that everyone is supportive of the situation.
I work in a casual daycare situation (in a gym) and bring my
children to work with me. When looking for preschools for my own
children I was offered several jobs (a college educated woman who
WANTS to work with children rather than have someone else care
for them while pursuing a high powered career -- lets grab her).
One offered to pay for Montessori training for me. I looked
into it, but found that a) I would pay more in childcare that I
would be earning or I would be netting about $500/month and b) I
didn't want to give up teaching my own children to teach someone
else's children. We aren't in a financial position to need that
extra $500/month...well, everyone needs more money, but you know
what I mean. My guess is that the circumstances are similar for
the teachers of your child.
-like babies at work
I think, if anything, bringing their children will probably help
them be more focused on their work (rather than spending the time
thinking about their babies in someone else's care). I also
concur with others about the difficulty to find and retain good
preschool teachers, the low pay and difficulty for child care
workers to afford childcared themselves, and the importance about
mothers supporting each other. Having said all these, yes, the
California Department of Education, Child Development Division,
has strict guidelines about the teacher-student ratio that are
organized by children's ages (smaller ratio with smaller children).
Dreaming of work-site daycares
I used to be a preschool administrator at a co-op preschool.
Our policy for infants in the classroom was based on the
licensing requirements. Infants were to be in a backpack(not a
frontpack or sling) at all times while in the classroom. The
reasons were clear: 1. Our preschool was not licensed for
children that young, and 2. A teacher or participating parent
needs to be able to pick up students in case of emergency
(which they couldn't do if they were holding an infant). Some
of the other co-ops don't even allow parents to bring babies at
all. I totally empathize with preschool teachers (low pay, lack
of childcare), but I also think that the original poster had
every right to question the safety of her own children while at
school. Parents are paying a lot of money for preschools and
expect that the teachers will be paying full attention to their
students. A lot of parents would never hire a nanny who brings
her own kids to work for the same reason. Of course, there will
be teachers who can handle this situation very well, especially
if the school is well-staffed, but that's not always the case.
If a preschool is licensed for infants and has the policy of
allowing their teachers to bring babies to work, maybe it
should be spelled out in the admission agreement so that
parents can decide (before enrolling) if they are comfortable
Had to Enforce the Regulations
I'm interviewing at home-based day cares for my son, who will be
approximately 5 months old when he is placed. I'm curious if
people are comfortable with a 1:6 provider to child ratio, which I
believe is the state maximum. Should I be looking for a lower
ratio? How do I evaluate if the providers are spread too thin?
I started my son in his current daycare at 6 months. It's a family
daycare, staffed by one very skilled, very kind woman. When he
started, there was only one other baby.That was heaven. Then a
third baby came. The place was still good. And now there's a
fourth. I've noticed a definite reduction in the amount and
quality of attention he gets with this latest addition--the
difference isn't striking enough to pull him out,in part because
he's now a toddler and getting less needy of one-on-one attention,
but if he was younger, I'd be concerned. 1:6 sounds too thin to
me, unless there are other staff people around who can pick up the
slack--like when two (or more!) babies are crying at once.
One way to tell if a particular daycare has too many babies per
grown-up is to go to visit around 9:30 or 10 am, when babies are
getting hungry, sleepy, and otherwise ornery. See how organized
the staff is about responding to everyone's needs and, generally,
how chaotic the place feels. It has taken me two whole babies and
several daycare situations to learn that going for interviews
after hours or during nap times is totally useless--every place
seems like a quiet haven during those times! It's what happens
when things are tough that really matters.
I am a research psychologist and am fairly familiar with the
child care research literature. As you might suspect, the
staff-to-child ratio is a very important indicator of child care
quality. For infants under 1-year-old, I have read that a 1-to-2
ratio is best (assuming, of course, that a 1-to-1 ratio is not an
option). I am shocked that the state law allows a 1-to-6 ratio. I
would recommend choosing the best ratio you can afford and
believe that 6 infants sharing the attention of one caregiver is
not a good situation.
Well, I am a stay-at-home mom so I don't actually have experience
looking for daycare providers. However, I would ask yourself, ''How
many five-month olds could I take care of?'' People with twins have
it hard enough let alone six babies and toddlers. I think six is
definately too many for one person to handle. Also think about the
amount of attention your baby will be getting. I know that daycare
providers work very hard but it just isn't possible to give the
type of attention to each baby that they need at such a young age.
Good luck in your search!
As for ratios for infant day care, I think the legal ratio is
actually lower than 1:6 for infants (I hope it is!) -- and
regardless, you should definitely look for a lower ratio than
that. I think 1:3 would be about as high as would be
reasonable ... Your baby will only be 5 months old for 1 month --
and so on. Keep in mind that he will soon be mobile and will
soon require more chasing around. Also, the one on one
interaction with a caregiveer will be important for your child's
development -- and the more other children there are, the less
of that there will be. Keep in mind that this is bound to be
the most expensive day care period of your child's life, and
think of it as an investment in his/her future....
I had always heard that the ratios were 1:4. I'm no expert, but
1:6 sounds way too high. We send both of our children to AOCS
where the teacher to infant ratios are 1:3. I would check with
Bananas to see if they have any information that would help you -
and also help you find a better daycare situation.
I am a shared nanny that used to do daycare. I've been more than
a few scaret daycares!
A daycare provider, one her own, cannot have more than 3 kids
under 2. So, while she can have have 6 preschoolers, don't let
anyone fool you about how many babies she is allowed. With a
helper, she can have 6 babies or 12 preschoolers, with an option
of 2 afterschool kids.
First of call licensing, check her record. I cannot urge parents
strongly enough to do this. After that, if you are still
considering enrolling your child, ask her, point blank, about the
citations found on her license.
Also, follow your gut... If you have a bad feeling about leaving
your child DO NOT DO IT. Find a friend to help you, find a stay
at home mom that needs some extra cash, find a new daycare.
Here is a list of warning signs; a daycare provider being short
with you or your child, the children there don't act quite right,
if the home daycare is to clean (this is an indication that the
kids aren't really acting like kids, also if you have 6 little
ones to run after, you won't be able to keep things perfect), or
if your child has strong adverse reaction to the provider...
Lastly, listen to your baby. Not every child will get along with
everey childcare provider. Do you really want to send your baby
somewhere that they hate?
this page was last updated: Jan 21, 2011
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