Here we are, at the beginning of the new school year all over the Country, and some very disheartening things have happened to children recently, things which should concern parents, family members, caregivers, and guardians. Things which should make us be more aware of where and with whom we place our children, for their safety and wellbeing.
You may have read or have seen a video of the police rescuing a small child who was left in a hot car in Seminole County, Florida, for 12 hours, by her parent.Three children who went missing from their home in Dade City were found safe, following an Amber Alert. It was believed that they were abducted by a male parent. Two young girls were killed allegedly by a parent in Colorado–and a pregnant mother and her unborn child were killed. Each of these is a horrific crime–severely punishable according to the statutes of the respective states in which the crimes occurred. Each of these crimes represents the worst of what can happen to children. And each of these crimes should make family members and caregivers sit up and take notice of where their young children are, who is caring for them when a parent cannot, and determine how responsible the adults are who are caring for their children.
Watching a child in your care and being present in the moment is first and foremost. Most parents understand this and are vigilant. If you are working parents, it is not always possible to be with and monitor your child moment-to-moment. So you make other arrangements, including baby sitters, child day care, pre-school, nursery school, caregivers in your home, or what have you!
Selecting the appropriate daycare option for your child is a daunting task. You need to know who the providers are, get references from other parents, possibly do a background check on the organization, and make sure staffing ratio of caregivers to children are good. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a ratio of one adult for every three babies up to 24 months of age is recommended. (We all know that this is not always observed.) Infants and very young children need more care and more of a caregiver’s time than older children. You want your caregivers to be caring and loving and interact well with your children. If you visit a daycare facility, you would want to see caregivers interacting with children in a positive way. Find out, if you can, what the rate of turnover for caregivers at the facility is; how long have caregivers worked there? Get a commitment from the caregivers you hire that they will be there for a year! Trust your instincts–visit and if you see a daycare is not clean or the children are not well cared for, probably better to check out another place. Ask questions, what do they do if a child becomes ill, or a caregiver is ill, what are their policies? Do they allow children to nap? Are they given meals and a snack? By all means, ask questions!
On another topic, If you know because you have witnessed, or you suspect, a child is being abused or is in danger of being abused, SAY SOMETHING! Call 911! Say something to the authorities, your local police, child protective services or a social services department in your area. Children are our responsibility. They are the future and we need to keep them safe!