Not all daycare experiences are going to be as ugly as ours was, there are a lot of great daycare centers that would never leave a parent in a situation like what we had faced. There are places you can go to search the overall scores and reviews of a center. I highly recommend every parent does genuine quality research for day care centers before deciding if a certain place is the right choice or not.
Off To A Normal Start
As many parents know, one of the biggest struggles is finding, quality, affordable childcare for your littles.
We thought we had found the answer in a local daycare. For the most part my daughter loved school. It was rough at first, filled with tearful goodbyes in the mornings and seemingly endless travels through traffic to and from work.
However, our relief quickly turned to concern when we noticed how different our daughter’s afternoon class was from her morning class. In the mornings her teacher was alert, respectful and seemed like she knew what was happening in the room to the best of her ability. In the afternoons the teachers switch-out, this time two teachers taking on a class of about 8-13 toddlers depending on the day. And yet somehow even though there were the same number of students and one extra teacher for the afternoon, it seemed like the classroom was much more chaotic.
Now, don’t worry. I’m not one of those parents who doesn’t expect a few bumps a bruises with the daycare experience. I worked at a daycare for a few years in high school as a volunteer classroom and office aid, so I am well aware of the ups and downs.
Where Things Went Wrong
One thing I don’t expect is for an afternoon teacher in a toddler class to show signs of discontent towards children. The more I paid attention to this teacher the more I noticed she never made eye contact, never spoke to students, parents or even the other teachers. She sent mixed signals to students like pointing to a chair then repeatedly shoving said child out of the chair. (Something I witnessed her doing to my daughter.)
I spoke with the morning teacher about my concerns and learned that this woman was not a teacher at all! She was simply there because she needed a ride home from the afternoon teacher. Though, it seemed no matter how times myself and other parents complained about her being around the kids, she always ended up back in the room.
The final straw came when I noticed a black eye on my daughter, then just two years old. From the time it took me to buckle my baby in her car-seat and drive twenty minutes to our home on the other side of town, my daughter’s eye had a purple-yellowish color and was fairly swollen.
My first thought was to drive straight through traffic and raise hell at the front doors of the daycare. Against all odds, I managed to compose myself and call the front desk to demand an explanation. I even stated I wanted to see the classroom footage myself in order to confirm nothing questionable had happened.
It took them sixteen hours, five phone calls and still I had no confirmation. In fact the only thing they were willing to talk about was when I would be making my next payment. As if my concern for my daughter’s safety in their care was a threat to their income.
Well, as a matter of fact it was. The next day I pulled my daughter from the daycare center. I gave them and my boss two weeks notice and that was that.
I made it known why I was pulling my daughter and still, no clear answer or even concern was shown. I was beside myself with the lack of responsibility that had been shown. The incident itself was certainly not pleasing, but what really set me off was the way they chose to handle it.
Each time I spoke with one person, it was as if they were stalling and then passed the phone around like a hot potato. They obviously wanted me to simply give up on the issue and make a payment for next week.
From my experience as a volunteer, hearing and seeing how an office is suppose to address injuries, I knew something must have been amiss for them to be so blatantly short and secretive.
Without real proof the most I could think to do at the time was to contact a family member of mine who worked in day cares for years and file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
After doing some research on the center I found that it had close to twenty crucial negative marks against it in just one year. That is way beyond average.
Looking back I wish I had been smarter in the beginning, not so desperate to find an affordable place with an opening, and took into consideration that being on the “right side of town” doesn’t guarantee anything.
Please learn from my mistake, trust your instincts. Don’t feel like you are stuck with any one place because of finances, location or what ever the current concerns are. In that moment, when I was looking at my daughter’s swollen black eye while a woman was brushing off my concern and asking for more money… I saw all to clearly the mistake I had made, the risk I had taken with my baby’s safety. I can only thank God now that a black eye was the worst of it.
A Positive Note
I don’t want to leave any of you with the feeling that daycare needs to be avoided like the plague, nor do I personally take this potion. All of the signs were there in my case, for others that may or may not be the same, but either way there are very amazing child care services out there. There are lots of people who are not only qualified, but are truly amazing at what they do and how they help your children learn and grow.
I want to direct you to ScaryMommy who wrote an awesome piece about the positives of finding a great place for your littles.