If you haven't heard the news already, a child died while in the care of a daycare run out a home in Vaughan, Ontario. Initial investigations easily show that the home care was in violation of overcrowding and was not licensed. The story can be read here.
Having worked in a field regarding the welfare of children, I may seem hyper-vigilant to the average person about keeping my child safe in general. This isn't to say I don't have my moments ("Yes, let the kids play tag on a granite floor!") but I am inwardly so paranoid about certain situations that I do take extra measures to ensure my kids are okay.
For example, whenever I put the kids into the car, I leave their door(s) open until I've packed up everything else and have only to get into the car myself. My fear: If something were to happen to me before I got into the car, would anyone know my kids were inside? They may just try to help me out but in the chaos of everything not bother to look into the car. This doesn't eliminate the possibility but it sure does increase the chances of my kids being looked after were calamity to come upon me. Small chances, I know, but it's a small bit to do to prevent my children potentially dying from heat in the summer or being left for who knows how long.
But back to child care. There are so many things to look after as a parent that verifying that the daycare with open spots is sound feels like a fence keeping one from moving on with the next stage of life. However, given the recent tragedy and the scare of escaped toddlers in Markham two years ago, due diligence is more than just ticking off boxes on a checklist but a matter of life and death - the life and death of the life one helped bring into this world and nurture to become a thriving being and will hopefully become a vibrant person giving back to society, and just being another amazing gift God has given to a family to enjoy.
It's a bit of chicken and egg, I guess: Need to find daycare so I can work, but need to work to afford daycare and our life in general, but I can't work if I don't have someone to watch my kids...... I'm caught in that crossfire myself. At this moment, though, I'd rather stay home than place my kids in the care of someone I only sort of know and only sort of trust because their place looks kid-friendly enough and all the other kids there are smiling. Okay, it's not that simple, but given all the unlicensed day cares still running, we have to assume that parents are not digging deep enough to see if the facilities are set up to handle taking charge of little ones, never mind that many little ones.
I don't think I'm making myself very clear as I'm pretty tired right now, and I'm probably upsetting a good bunch of people, but I hope this post has left enough of a seed for parents ask themselves whether they are doing enough to ensure their children are cared for while they are at work. Skimming over hard questions is not worth a child getting hurt or worse, dead. It doesn't matter if you know them or how long they've been running things. There's a reason why licenses expire and checks are made. Aren't reviews done at a workplace too of those with greater seniority? Longevity doesn't automatically mean trustworthy. And if you know the person, due diligence can be awkward, but how much worse would the relationship be if something were to go wrong while your child was in his/her care?
If you're not sure what to look for, I'd say check out "my Plan to Protect Pocket Guide" for a starting point. Yes, it's more about abuse prevention but it will help parents consider factors such as adult-child ratios, washroom procedures, emergency policies, etc.
If you're still not convinced about looking deeper into a facility's soundness (is that a word?), consider how much time may be spent when looking for a new car or buying a home or purchasing new furniture. The same amount of time and effort should be put into researching child care, if not more!