The Staff At Licensed Day Care Centers Are Not The Same As Babysitters

No job comes with a responsibility quite as serious as those who are entrusted with the nurture, education and safety of other people’s children. A really good day center provides all this plus individual attention and age-appropriate academic programs, not to mention an introduction to social skills as well. Clearly this job is not for wimps. We parents teach, care for and love our children and know how difficult it can be to make sure we don’t do something dumb and lead them astray. How would you like to do this for a classroom of twenty or so kids that you don’t even know yet? Most states regulate child day care centers closely. State Human Services or Child Welfare agencies are responsible for monitoring and licensing these facilities and consider them businesses like any other; they are in the business of care. Applicants for staff positions in day care facilities must meet minimum requirements tantamount to those required for public school teachers. It is common to find a staff member with a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in these licensed care centers sitting on the floor with a bunch of two-year-olds. There are even specialists in age appropriate education techniques for the infants in the care of the day care center. Day care centers also employ several generally younger types than the highly educated staff who are apt to be students at the local university gaining practical experience in the day care setting while furthering their teaching education. The kids at the center enjoy these student-teachers as they are young enough to possess the energy necessary to engage in endless play. The kids develop their gross motor skills while running and jumping along with the student-teacher staff members. Licensing regulations in most areas also require close examination of criminal records. While not all legal involvement is reason for disqualification from employment in a licensed daycare center, anything involving violence or child endangerment is a red flag that would bar the applicant from working with young children. The agency that licenses the facility may scrutinize state police records, or may go so far as to require fingerprinting for FBI review. Even volunteers must undergo background checks, so parents may be assured that the sweet grandma rocking their baby to sleep has been cleared by law enforcement and child welfare authorities. The sage parent will also expend the time and energy to closely investigate the centers they are considering for their child’s placement. This would include a thorough interview of the director of the center and many pertinent questions of him about his staff of teachers, administrators and volunteers. The parents should drop into the classroom unannounced to check out what goes on there every day. This will give them a clue about how their child may fit into the surroundings. The staff in the classroom should also be interviewed. Most of the state Child Welfare agencies will have information accessible to the public at large much like the Better Business Bureau has for businesses. They may also have a hotline that can be called to find out whether there have been complaints against a particular day center and how those complaints were handled by the center. The day care center will have an individual licensing agent they work who can also answer questions about a specific day care facility. The director of the center will be able to direct a parent to the proper person within the licensing agency who can answer all their questions. Assuming the responsibility for caring for someone else’s children is not to be taken lightly. The vast majority of licensed daycare centers understand this, and put forth the necessary efforts to maintain educated and ethical employees. Being able to receive and verify information regarding the people that will have this responsibility makes a parent’s decision to place their child in licensed daycare much less frightening and more comforting for everyone involved.}

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