Health & Safety Concerns about Daycare
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Health & Safety Concerns about Daycare
I'm struggling with various waves of fear/anxiety about the violence
in S. Berkeley where my toddler will be attending day care this coming
fall. I chose the daycare because it was conveniently located on the
way to work, it came highly recommended by many people, and I felt
really comfortable with it. I know she will love it and be well taken
care of. I tend a bit toward anxiety, and my new source of anxiety is
imagining my daughter getting killed in a drive-by shooting while her
daycare is taking a walk to the park (something they do periodically).
This fear has been heightened by the recent shooting of two children
in their homes a few blocks away. For the record, I've left my child
in a nanny share this past year (in a different neighborhood), so I
don't think this is so much about fear of leaving her. I used to live
in S. Berkeley, and I still don't hesitate to drive or bike through
there. I work in an even sketchier neighborhood in Oakland. And I try
to remind myself that there are probably more pressing dangers (auto
accidents). But for some reason, I'm still struggling with this. Is
this fear well-founded? Any advice how I can get over it? I wonder
if the fear will dissipate once the daycare becomes part of our daily
routine, or if each new incident of violence will just bring it back.
Any thoughts on this?
My two children (ages 1 1/2 and 4) have attended day care /preschool in South
Berkeley since the oldest was six months old. I also work with high school students
that primarily live in this area. I'm not sure that I have advice, but want to
acknowledge that I have also felt uneasy a few times during the past few months due
to the violence/tension between South Berkeley/North Oakland. However, I am also
reassured by the incredible nurturing and care that my children receive, and this
outweighs my anxiety. I also realize through my work with families living in the
neighborhood that overall it is a community of hardworking people also concerned
about the well being and safety of their families.
I think you may be right- once the day care situation becomes part of your daily
routine, your anxiety may decrease.
Thought About it Too
Is your gut telling you something? Slow down and
listen. By the way, I don't know the age of your kid, but there
are a few fabulous day care/ pre-schools out there...Happy Baby,
Greenhouse, Montessori Family School are all places that I and my
friends have had great experiences with...Maybe you feel like
you'd rather have a nannyshare for a little one?
Listen to your gut
Not so sure that one's irrational. No way would I leave my child
at a daycare if I felt the neighborhood was unsafe. Call Bananas
and get referrals for other daycares, there are hundreds in the
East Bay. Look for one near your home instead, if you feel more
comfortable in your home neighborhood. There are too many other
options out there to feel anxious, IMO.
This morning, something happened in my 26 months old daughter's
daycare that worries me very much. My partner dropped her off,
she was really upset he would leave, he helped her getting comfortable,
and finally she said him good bye. (Typically, drop offs are not fun,
but acceptable for my daugher, but there are exceptions.)
When he was already at the gate to the street, she came running screaming
out of the building. She must have left the room, crossed the hallway,
went through the entrance door, climbed up a flight of stairs,
and run between the toddler and the baby playground into the
bigger kids playground/parking lot where my partner heard her while
walking through the main gate to the street.
He brought her back to her room to see teachers being surprised at his
reappearance - they had not noticed she had run away before he brought her
back. I don't know if he planned to say anything to them and what, but he didn't
get to it, as the first thing was they asking him if he had told her that
she's not supposed to leave the room.
While I agree that she has to know this, his reaction to the sudden appearance
of his desparately crying daughter had not been to give her instructions but to give
her comfort. She is not a child who has ever tried to run away from us secretely,
only this kind of ''I run, will you run after me'' game.
Then the head teacher developed some theories about her having more
difficulties with daycare these days, because she started using the potty there.
She's had a lot of pee accidents there, while she's been essentially trained at
home for a while. Then her suggestion to put her back in diapers now.
When asked about diapers, my daughter announced she wanted to go pee.
She went with daddy to the potty area, sat down and peed immediately.
While I first thought, the potty training discussion is just distracting from the
problem, I realize that it probably seems to be related. She doesn't seem
to feel comfortable telling the teachers there when she has to go pee
and desparately want one of us to help her instead. So that surely has to
be addressed on its own right.
However, there are hundreds of other potential reasons for children to escape
from daycare. In my view, the bottom line is, that they have to make sure
young children can not leave on their own. I'm very concerned about her running
out and trying to get home or to the park or wherever she'd like to go by herself.
She'd try to find the way as she knows the neighborhood and she's used to
walk home with us, but she'd surely get lost and not unlikely get killed by a car.
There's a main traffic street very close to the school, and on the way to the park.
The gate to the street was closed this morning, but it often is not during
these drop of times, because some parents want to drive into the school yard
(=older toddler/ big kids play area) for dropping of their children.
I'm worried now, that they won't make sure she does not run away again.
Why didn't they react with concern that they had not even noticed her escape?
Why did they start to put the responsibility on us with asking if we had told
her she's not supposed to run out the school? She is just over 2 years old,
how can they count on her following rules when it's about something as
dangerous as running away? Why did they start to mix up the problem with
her school potty training, can't potty trained children run away as well?
My partner was really overwelmed by the situation and doesn't feel like he
reacted to the teachers' (non-)actions and well. So, we'd like to speak about
this with them again. I already went through a bunch of scenarios this morning
including getting her out of the school immediately... I dont' want to react
hysterically, but I'm very worried. I'd like to hear what other think. Also,
I'd appreciate any suggestions on how to approach this topic with the daycare
people. Making them angry at me may result in resentments against
my child as well. Who to talk to, when, with your child around or making an
appointment without the child? It's not obvious, from a practical point of view,
how, when and where to speak to the daycare teachers when a problem arises.
Thank you very much for any kind of help.
Your post really concerned me. I think you should get your
child out of that daycare asap. The daycare should have NO
EXCUSE for your child escaping like that, none. Bottom line is
that they should have prevented that from happening. It
worries me that it happened unnoticed by them.
From what you describe, I recognize the school. My son graduated from
there to Kindergarten, and my daughter is still attending (been there
since she was three months old). While I find it unacceptable and
inexcusable that your daugther escaped the room and her teachers did
not notice, and they probably had the very reproachable, but human,
reaction of trying to deflect blame, please do not give up on the
school. Talk with the director. She is a very approachable person
which will listen to your concerns and will make sure that this does
not happen again (I am sure that she will take this very seriously).
The director is an exceptional person, sweet and caring, who knows all
the children by first name. She is also a well-known and respected
expert on child development. Talk to other parents about your
concerns, try to attend -- if you can-- the parents' meeting once a
month (childcare is available). If you scratch the surface you will
find a wonderful caring community of parents. Spend time in the
classroom (you are welcome to do this at any time, I've found). I
love this school. My children have thrived here (although I have had
my share of crying fits in the morning, especially during
transitions!). This school has always given us the flexibility that
other daycare centers would not even contemplate, and they (the
school, the parents, the staff) feel like family to us. And they
remember all the graduates. When my son goes to visit he gets many
hugs from his ex-teachers.
Please, talk with the director. Let her know that this has happened.
Ask her for reassurance that it will not happen again. Offer
constructive criticism, and give the school a chance to show you all
those great things I have mentioned above. You won't regret it.
First thing is I don't think you're over-reacting in your concern
that your daughter was able to leave the room without the
teachers noticing. My first thought would be to have a discussion
with the school about this issue. Regardless of whether your
daughter has a reason to want to follow you or not be there,
there needs to be a discussion of the escape. I would assume that
there is a designated person for you to discuss concerns. I would
call on the phone and just say while you understand that your
daughter might be upset about pottying, it's not acceptable that
she could walk out without anyone noticing and ask how they plan
to address it. I leave a 26 month old girl at preschool every
morning too and usually one of the teachers holds her while I go,
if she's crying, which sometimes happens. Your school needs to be
prepared that she may try to follow. In both our daycares, there
has been a director or lead person whose job is to discuss this
stuff, but it's probably best handled by phone.
As for the whole pottying issue, well this kind of makes sense to
me. My daughter has been going potty at school too and it has
definitely been a more emotional time for her at drop off each
morning. The last few mornings I have actually walked her over to
the potty and asked her if she wants to go. And I tell her that
when she needs to go, let the teachers know and they'll bring
her. It's interesting how relieved she seemed to hear that. We
did have a setback when she was constipated and then she only
wanted to go for me again, but it definitely seems like there is
a relationship between the two issues of staying at daycare and
getting used to going potty. I would acknowledge that possibility
in discussion with the school, but reiterate the overall concern
that they didn't notice she left. While I think it's a good idea
for you to remind your daughter that she needs to stay, it's not
your responsibility to keep looking back to ! check. It's theirs.
I'd take your child out of this facility with immediate effect. If
they cannot manage to cover the most basic of safety issues, what
else is lacking???
Not worth the worry ...
I am just about to start back to work and must find daycare formy 7
month old daughter. It breaks my heart to part from her and I am
extremely catious about family (home) daycares. While I was working in
a daycare center, myself, one of our previously regular 2 year-olds who
had been switched to a family daycare accidentally drowned himself in
a bucket in the yard. The bucket had filled up with rainwater from the
night before. Regardless, I am now horrified of family daycares but
BANANAS tells me that they are the only places available in my ''zone.''
Does anyone have any advice that could calm my fears or point me in
the right direction towards affordable local daycare centers?
There is a wide variety of quality in family daycare. This means that
although there can be problems, some of the very best daycare
available is also family daycare. My son has been in a family daycare
my area for 2 years, and I cannot imagine a better place for him to
been. The owner and her daughter are absolutely wonderful with the
kids. Kids receive lots of one-on-one attention, lots of fun
of training in how to relate socially, lots of home-cooked good food.
as parents, we've received lots of information about our child (emails
telling us what they've done all day, advice about areas of concern,
specially organized classes for daycare parents). Also, since we have
strong relationship with the owner, we've been able to make
suggestions and have them acted on. Because the daycare is in our
neighborhood, we've made good friends with the other parents. The
benefits are too numerous to count.
In terms of advice, when you are looking at potential daycares, make
sure you get a good long interview with the care provider. Ask all the
questions that Bananas and other places recommend, and make
absolutely sure you feel comfortable with the answers. Ask to check
place out, and make sure you are comfortable with the physical space.
In my case, I was half sold on the daycare provider before I even
interviewed her; every remark she made on the phone was about what
was good for my son -- not about what was convenient for her. And my
visit with her only confirmed that impression.
I have found a wonderful family daycare near my home although I
had to look at many places before I found one I felt
comfortable with. What made me feel more comfortable was that
she uses immense care in finding assistants, because she has
two of her kids there as well. I checked out all of the day
care centers in the area, but I thought that the ones that had
openings were too institutional-- my baby was only 4 months old
at the time. We are now having a second child and explored all
the options again-- nanny, center, family, and decided we are
going to put our new baby in the same place. Please let me
know if you'd like more information.
I was quite afraid also about sending my son to any daycare, but
feel extremely lucky to have found an in-home Montessori daycare
that I love and where my son is thriving and happy (he started at
6 months and he's now 10 months). It's called A World of
Learning Montessori and it's run by Denise and her number is
510-233-5574. Certainly, terrible things can happen anywhere -
even at home with you. Somehow, you need to put all this anxiety
aside and just trust your instincts. Find the safest place you
can and ask lots of questions to relieve as much of your anxiety
I understand your concerns about family daycare but I think the
horror story that you relate, while tragic, doesn't implicate
all family daycares as being dangerous to your child. I
searched for a family daycare about a year ago and I found a
wide variety of settings. Some were more casual about the
differentiation between the family home and the daycare area
and some (like the one I chose) had a certain part of the home
only used for daycare and the rest is off limits for the
children. I liked that because I didn't have to worry about a
family member leaving something out that would be potential
attractive for my son to get into. I think you just have to
look at a lot of daycares and you will get an idea of what you
are comfortable with. It is the same with daycare centers -
some will seem right to you and some won't. I wouldn't rule it
out as an option just because of one horrible story. There are
lots of great, safe places for your child and family daycare
may be a great option for you - you never know.
A happy home daycare mom
I too am one of those people that just don't feel comfortable
about some family day cares - the idea of one person alone w/
several kids makes me nervous, no matter how nuturing they may
be. But you should definately go check out some family
daycares as there are a wide variety of them out there. I've
seen some that look like regular day care centers with several
teachers, and there are definately family day care providers
that take their job seriously and professionally. Bananas has a
list of things you should look for when checking them out, such
as child proofing, and questions to ask. You usually have to
make an appointment, but you can also drive by them and kinda
scope out what's going on. Also, you don't have to be limited
to the area you live in. Check out daycare centers in other
neighborhoods either where you work or on the way to work. I
live in N. Berkeley, work in the City and drop my son off at a
daycare center in Emeryville. It's quicker to get to Emeryville
than to N. Berkeley from the City which makes it less stressful
trying to get there in time (as most centers will charge you
each minute you are late past the closing time).
And my last piece of advice is to just trust your instincts.
You will hear a lot of opinions from people about the pros and
cons of each type of child care, but in the end you have to do
what's best for your comfort level and peace of mind.
this page was last updated: Jan 30, 2011
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