Let’s break open the box and discuss what many would rather avoid; let’s talk about child injuries at daycare. Yes, I said it, but before you click and move on to the next blog I want to encourage you to stick with me through the next few paragraphs. What I’m going to share will help parents, owners, directors and center staff members; which will ultimately help our children and that my friend is what it’s all about.
Let’s start with a few facts to paint a clearer picture: I will use Virginia as my base of reporting. In 2016 there were 507,550 children birth to 4 years old in Virginia and of those approximately 390,000 were from families where the parents in the home were in the work force outside of the home (single and dual parent homes). For the most part, where do you think those children spend their days while mom and dad are working? Great guess, in a childcare setting. In the United States in the same year the numbers were 19,757,997 ages birth to 4 years old with approximately 14,800,000 from families where the parents in the home worked outside of the home.* The trend of mothers in the work force, families relocating away from extended family, increases in divorce, and single parent homes has required more and more children to be cared for outside of the home. With a little less than 4/5 of the children being cared for in an out of home environment where do you think the greatest percentage of children have the greatest potential to be injured? If you said in the out of home environment you are right again. Now add these facts to the fact that children, as they grow, are prone to stumble and fall regardless of who’s providing the care. As much as we do not like to think about it, children are going to endure ouches, ow-wees, and injuries as they grow and that fact does not alter because they are in a child day center.
However, there are some things we, the team, parents and childcare providers, can do to better protect our children and to facilitate continuous communication within the team. Here are a few of my tested tried and true rules of thumb.
Before The Accident
Center Owners & Directors: Make sure your injury policy is clearly outlined in your parent and employee contract. In my centers I do not permit parents to just sign the contract with the assumption they read, a member of my administrative staff reviews the contract, section by section with each family. Ensure your staff is trained and clearly understands not just the injury policy, but how to prevent injuries. You must also make it plain in your employee contract and by your follow-through the consequences for violating safety measures.
Parents: Ensure you understand and agree with your center’s injury policy. Discuss the policy and your preferences before you enroll your child in a center. Make sure your desires are documented in your child’s file and ensure your child’s primary care provider is aware of you desires. Also make sure that both parents are aware of the policy to eliminate miscommunication between parents and staff. When you drop your child off at the center invest a few moments to share anything new your bundle of joy is doing: pulling up, rolling over, running, biting…
Immediately After the Accident
Center Owners & Directors: When accidents and incidents occur, follow your own rules. Write incident reports, contact parents when necessary, investigate and take the necessary actions. The person responsible for contacting the parents should be a member of the leadership team. Parents trust us with their children and they trust us to do what we say we will do, we must honor that trust. “Sorry we were too busy to call” is not an acceptable excuse for failing to follow your own policy.
Parents: When you get that call… breathe and listen. This is why it is VITAL that you select a center or in-home provider that you trust. It is in these moments that trust will help you remain calm. I recall years ago a family trusted me with their 4 year old little boy, his first time in daycare. When his mom picked him up at the end of the day I mentioned I was surprised she had not called all day to check on him. Her response was simple, “I trust you or he would not be here.”
Later After the Accident
Center Owners & Directors: If the parent had to be called, depending on the severity or the needs of the family, check on the child. If you had to investigate the incident further keep the parents informed concerning your progress and findings. If in your findings you see where corrections need to be made, rather in procedure or staff, make the adjustments. Our number one priority is the safety of the children.
Parents: With trust in tack as you observe your center or in-home provider do all they have promised to do it will be easy to continue in the loving environment you have entrusted you child to. If you have questions or concerns talk with your center’s director or owner.
Yes it is true; children will encounter ouches in every area of their life to include daycare. It’s a natural part of life however; with the team working together you will limit those times and communicate well when they do occur.
* usa.childcareaware.org, State Childcare Facts in the State of Virginia
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