Author Topic: How important is quality daycare?  (Read 3109 times)

Goldy

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How important is quality daycare?
« on: February 04, 2020, 05:24:58 AM »
We have been trying for children for a few years now and have suffered a few losses but now have one on the way so I started looking into daycare options near us.  Being somewhat rural I expected daycare to be difficult but we found one just a few miles down the road from us so we checked it out.  Having seen it and talking with the owner I’m now uncertain what to do, the owner was burnt out although very nice.  She has 3 kids which is why she got into the business to begin with but she doesn’t have any formal education and only has one other helper for 10 kids.

So, for all you experienced parents out there, how important is quality day care vs just having a place to take your kid so you can go to work?  We want the kid to go to daycare mostly for socializing but also so DW can keep working since she enjoyed her job (that might change after having a kid but who knows).

Other options include driving 30-60mi each way to try and find a better daycare but I just don’t know how much education really matters for an infant.

On the plus side this daycare is inexpensive at 700/mo and you get a $35 credit for each day you don’t take the kid there so it’s nice to have that flexibility.

Laura33

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Re: How important is quality daycare?
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2020, 05:47:39 AM »
Education doesn't matter.  Attention and love and how they interact with your baby do.  I'd be less concerned about the owner's lack of education than her burnout and the 5:1 kid-to-adult ratio.

Sugaree

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Re: How important is quality daycare?
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2020, 06:06:03 AM »
5:1 is a little much for an infant.  I think my son's infant class was 3:1.  My bigger concern is with in-home care in general and that's whether you have a reasonable plan for back-up care.  If the provider, or her assistant, get sick then what is the plan to cover that day?  I saw a friend of mine run into this where she would be almost to the provider's house when she got the call that the provider wasn't working that day.  In a center, there is usually a backup plan for when a provider is out (though my kid's after school program closed for two days last week because they had so many teachers out with the flu). 

meerkat

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Re: How important is quality daycare?
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2020, 07:26:50 AM »
My state has 1:4 ratio by law for infants under 1 year of age, then 1:6 for 12-24 months of age.

Our preference was for a place that would let them just play outside, get dirty, and be kids, not places that tried to push early reading skills. There will be enough of that in K-12 education. We also only looked at day care centers because then we didn't need to worry about coverage, and we asked what days they closed for during the year. One place closed every time the public schools closed even if it was just for a teacher work day which was incredibly annoying to have to take PTO for and still pay for a full week of day care.

Even in elementary school, parental involvement matters way more than the quality of the school itself.

trashtalk

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Re: How important is quality daycare?
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2020, 07:53:31 AM »
Home is 10x more important than school.

Babies need to be held.

Don't leave your baby anywhere you feel even remotely uncomfortable. If anything happened you'd never be able to forgive yourself.

Blue Skies

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Re: How important is quality daycare?
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2020, 10:01:42 AM »
I wouldn't worry about education at this age.  I would worry about an infant getting lost in the shuffle of a home daycare with only 2 adults and that many kids. 

Do you have options for daycare near one of your workplaces?  Or do you both work from home?

When my kids were tiny I placed them with a SAHM who had 1-2 other kids to watch.  They got plenty of attention.  As they aged up, we moved to a center with lots of other kids and a more structured pre-school type curriculum.

Goldy

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Re: How important is quality daycare?
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2020, 09:04:52 PM »
Thanks for all the great replies so far.

This daycare is not a home daycare but a daycare center loosely attached to the local school.  They do limit the number of infants to 3 and can have up to 10 kids.

We both have flexible work schedules so if the provider were to be sick we can easily take time off work if we need to. 

DW works from home and I work 10 miles away with no other towns near there so it’s this option or a 30-60 mile one way commute. 

FrenchToast

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Re: How important is quality daycare?
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2020, 07:55:15 AM »
Congratulations on the little one! I would recommend looking up the inspection records for the provider if your state publishes that information. In my state the ratio is 1:3 until two years of age. While I don't think her education level is important, I think her own professional development is important. For instance, I chose a daycare that is centered on a certain philosophy, not really because I think it's the best but because it showed that there is at least some level of professional development happening for the staff.

It's important that you feel like you have shared values. Think about things that are important to you: will your baby be in a bouncer/swing all day, is there a quiet, safe nap area, what does communication w/ parents look like during the day, is she familiar with safe baby-led weaning(if that's something you're interested in). Does she serve food to the children, if so what types of food, is it served family style as recommended by the USDA https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/cacfp/CACFP05-2017os.pdf?
Some of these weren't important to me, but it's a sign of a good provider if they are aware of the reasons why parents might ask.

And I will echo other posters, don't send your baby anywhere you aren't very comfortable for her SAFETY. The other stuff really doesn't matter but helped me to feel more comfortable.

Goldy

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Re: How important is quality daycare?
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2020, 07:04:27 PM »
Thanks for the tip on the license look up.  I checked and they just got inspected a few days ago with one violation of an item other than a pacifier being in the crib with an infant. 

Thanks for all the good questions to ask too.

meerkat

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Re: How important is quality daycare?
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2020, 06:12:48 AM »
It's important to evaluate how big of an infraction is on the report - missing paperwork can be something out of the day care's control if they need the parents to be the ones to deliver it. Expired prescription diaper cream is also not a big deal (it's probably in a drawer with all the other creams and they just didn't spot the expiration date till the inspectors came around). Unsecured medicine or chemicals is a bigger deal.

Freedomin5

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Re: How important is quality daycare?
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2020, 07:26:00 AM »
Quote
how important is quality day care vs just having a place to take your kid so you can go to work? 

We sent our daughter when she was 1.5 years old to a local daycare, where there were approximately 6 adults to 25-30 kids. It was a terrible decision. She was the youngest child there, and while the adults were nice, they were not experienced in early childhood education. DD ended up being ignored by the older kids and by the teachers. The teachers did not give her extra attention to try to engage her in the activities. She cried every morning. She started having nightmares, crying in the middle of the night when previously she had been sleeping through the night. We finally pulled her out when I found her lying in the middle of the room with her blankie when I went to pick her up, and when I asked the teachers what was going on, they said, "We don't know; she just woke up from nap and wanted to lie there." I touched her forehead and she had a raging fever. They had no idea she was sick.

The way you describe your daycare centre - burnt out caregivers, lots of kids, few adults, uneducated caregivers - makes me very nervous.

Junglebot

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Re: How important is quality daycare?
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2020, 08:15:35 AM »
We toured a TON of daycares, and the in-home centers were much better than the centers we saw (except one, where the kids were all planted in front of a tv in the living room).  The one we settled on has a 5:1 kid:adult ratio, with 2 kids under 1 yr.

It has worked out very well.  The caregiver sits with the babies while the older kids run around and play.  I really think watching the kids (not being in a separate infant room) has helped our baby learn more than any sort of regimented education program would have.  I'd definitely follow your gut, but don't be scared away by the ratio.

Also, FWIW, our baby HATES car rides.  A 30-60mi drive to daycare would be daily hell.

Frugal Lizard

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Re: How important is quality daycare?
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2020, 08:25:07 AM »
Quality is extremely important.  They spent the most formative years in care and shouldn't be in a place that they are not surrounded with love, kindness and opportunity to learn.  I looked for a daycare that had a good outdoor place space and lots of time outside with opportunities to engage.  And good food.  And did the caregivers really interact with the kids - lots of eye contact and body contact.  Do they see things before they are going to happen and re-direct a situation or is the room always in re-active mode.

smella

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Re: How important is quality daycare?
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2020, 01:46:50 PM »
Early childhood is actually the most important time of life for forming the self, the intellect, the personality, etc.   

Also consider that a pre-verbal child cannot easily tell you if things are going very, very wrong.

So I will have to strongly disagree with the folks saying that daycare "doesn't matter."  Yikes.

Laura33

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Re: How important is quality daycare?
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2020, 02:27:02 PM »
Early childhood is actually the most important time of life for forming the self, the intellect, the personality, etc.   

Also consider that a pre-verbal child cannot easily tell you if things are going very, very wrong.

So I will have to strongly disagree with the folks saying that daycare "doesn't matter."  Yikes.

Uhhhh, literally no one said daycare doesn't matter. 

Cassie

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Re: How important is quality daycare?
« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2020, 05:05:38 PM »
Infants need to be held a lot and can’t tell you if something is happening. I wouldn’t be comfortable with the ratio and circumstances you listed.

lutorm

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Re: How important is quality daycare?
« Reply #16 on: February 10, 2020, 03:42:27 PM »
When my wife went back to work after 7mo, we didn't feel great about leaving him with a daycare we didn't know anything about, so we spent a ton of money on a nanny until he turned 1. We found an in-home daycare just a couple miles from our house and one year later it's been working out great and the kid likes being there. Now that we know them, we'd be comfortable leaving another kid there earlier, I think.

That said, when we looked around there were definitely the "park the kids in front of the TV" kind of daycare so you definitely want to visit and also talk to them about what their philosophy is etc. The person running our daycare at least could talk intelligently about the kind of learning and socializing they see as their job and is interested in early childhood education topics in general.

The big problem with the arrangement, that someone else mentioned as well, is that there's no backup if they're sick or when they're on vacation. In those cases we're falling back to paying our old nanny for a day or two and if she's not available then my wife tries to organize her luckily quite flexible job in academia to be able to take him for the day. This has definitely been a bigger issue than we expected.

Omy

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Re: How important is quality daycare?
« Reply #17 on: February 10, 2020, 03:57:36 PM »
Since DW works from home, can you find somebody to come to your house to watch the baby during DW work hours?

Gay Burqueño Dad

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Re: How important is quality daycare?
« Reply #18 on: February 12, 2020, 12:35:41 PM »
I would look around - mostly ask around - a little more. There may be more options close ish by that you're not aware of. And - it sounds like you work outside the home. I don't know what your work schedule is or how populated the environs of your work are, but maybe there's a daycare on the way ish?

For me, who was used to finding just about everything via Google, the daycare market was obnoxiously offline. Very few in-home daycares are on say google maps, and no nannies. Even daycare centers often have subpar web presences. The only central listing of daycare centers and in-home daycares that I found was a state website. (Which was just a giant list of everything in the county, so filtering to close-by providers had to be done manually.)

Anyway, all of this is to say, ask your friends and neighbors if there's anything else.

As a last resort, if your home location and jobs are non-negotiable and there are zero other options, I would personally probably accept the daycare you found over unnecessarily driving 2-4 hours every day to somewhere better. Parental time and energy is in short supply, and my calculation would be that the likely outcomes of layering a huge commute onto two working parents (fights, exhaustion, somewhat increased risk of divorce...) are probably worse than the likely outcomes of what seems to be a subpar daycare. (Who knows, maybe the owner was having a bad hour and isn't actually burned out? I would still be concerned with a non-burned-out owner, somewhat about the kid ratio but also about the availability of backup staff in case of illness/whatever, but less concerned?) But I would investigate all the other options first.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2020, 12:41:08 PM by Gay Burqueño Dad »

Gay Burqueño Dad

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Re: How important is quality daycare?
« Reply #19 on: February 12, 2020, 12:38:31 PM »
Another brainstorm option - you or (it sounds like more likely) your wife goes part time and finds other nearby parents and works out a solid care-trade system? You take my kids 20 hrs/week, I'll take your kids 20 hrs/week?


Sugaree

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Re: How important is quality daycare?
« Reply #20 on: February 12, 2020, 01:37:54 PM »
Another brainstorm option - you or (it sounds like more likely) your wife goes part time and finds other nearby parents and works out a solid care-trade system? You take my kids 20 hrs/week, I'll take your kids 20 hrs/week?

Along this line, my BIL and SIL shared the cost of a nanny with a neighbor for awhile.  It worked out well for them.

mm1970

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Re: How important is quality daycare?
« Reply #21 on: February 13, 2020, 03:39:24 PM »
I would also worry more about the apparent "burn out" than the ratio.  Ratios are set by the licensing boards.

My older son was in a daycare that size.  8-14 allowed, up to 3 babies.  The main provider was a pro.  She'd been doing it with her mom for decades and she had it down to a science.  ALL the kids were down for a nap at the same time.  Usually I'd say she had 8-10 on any given day.

The mom was the "baby whisperer".  She held the babies and fed the babies.  She was 91 years old when we started.  91!  But still spry and would sweep the driveway every morning.  At this point, there were 2nd and 3rd generations of families going.

I'd ask some of the other parents what they think, and look around too.

With my second kid, I was hoping for someone closer to our house - the first childcare was 5 miles through the city in the wrong direction.  One of my best friends moved back to town and started her daycare up again.  My son was the only one there for about 10 months until she got licensed again. 

I wouldn't recommend hours of driving.

marble_faun

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Re: How important is quality daycare?
« Reply #22 on: February 16, 2020, 07:40:15 PM »
The place you describe doesn't sound good to me.  In your shoes I would be looking for an in-home nanny or nanny-share situation.

Quality to me is of huge importance.  For babies and toddlers, "quality" doesn't need to mean introducing academic skills, but the caregivers should be warm and attentive and have some clue about early childhood development as well as safety. So, someone lacking education who randomly fell into this role, who seems exhausted, and who is leaving stuff in the crib (verboten according to public health messaging that new parents get blasted with) would be raising a lot of red flags for me.  A tired person might make mistakes with safety, or just ignore the baby as much as possible all day, and you would have no idea. 

Probably the baby would survive and be fine, but it still doesn't seem like an optimal situation at a time when a child's brain is developing rapidly every day and absorbing experiences like a sponge.

I was also scarred for life by this article (warning - it will hurt your heart): https://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/11/15/a-baby-dies-at-day-care-and-a-mother-asks-why-she-had-to-leave-him-so-soon/

My own plan is to wait until my child can walk and talk before signing up for some form of nursery school.  That way the kid will have already survived more fragile infant stage, will be ready to socialize with other kids, and if something is really bad or wrong, I can hear about it.

trashtalk

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Re: How important is quality daycare?
« Reply #23 on: February 17, 2020, 02:16:43 PM »
The place you describe doesn't sound good to me.  In your shoes I would be looking for an in-home nanny or nanny-share situation.

Quality to me is of huge importance.  For babies and toddlers, "quality" doesn't need to mean introducing academic skills, but the caregivers should be warm and attentive and have some clue about early childhood development as well as safety. So, someone lacking education who randomly fell into this role, who seems exhausted, and who is leaving stuff in the crib (verboten according to public health messaging that new parents get blasted with) would be raising a lot of red flags for me.  A tired person might make mistakes with safety, or just ignore the baby as much as possible all day, and you would have no idea. 

Probably the baby would survive and be fine, but it still doesn't seem like an optimal situation at a time when a child's brain is developing rapidly every day and absorbing experiences like a sponge.

I was also scarred for life by this article (warning - it will hurt your heart): https://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/11/15/a-baby-dies-at-day-care-and-a-mother-asks-why-she-had-to-leave-him-so-soon/

My own plan is to wait until my child can walk and talk before signing up for some form of nursery school.  That way the kid will have already survived more fragile infant stage, will be ready to socialize with other kids, and if something is really bad or wrong, I can hear about it.

I knew what story you were going to link to before I clicked. :(

SimpleCycle

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Re: How important is quality daycare?
« Reply #24 on: February 18, 2020, 01:53:57 PM »
Definitely ask around - we found our care situation somewhat randomly through word of mouth.  I would not be comfortable with the situation you described, and I am super breezy.  Your parental instinct is a very valid measure of daycare quality, because you need to be able to leave them there worry free while you go to work and focus on that.

In our state, you can find licensed home daycares on a site run by the state, so you could try that too.