Typically, I like to write my parent blogs in a manner that invites parents to think about their own values and ideas as a parent. I like my blogs to raise questions and provide alternative solutions to parenting issues we each face. But today I have another purpose: to advise parents about what they must do to ensure the safety of their children – what you must do to make sure your children are in the care of someone you can trust.
This past weekend, two stories surfaced about children being placed in danger while in the care of a family child care provider. One story involved a certified child care provider who was arrested for selling drugs during the hours child care was being provided in her home. The second story involved a child being sexually assaulted by a teenage boy in the home where the child received care. Both stories are extremely alarming. I spend my work hours trying to improve the child care choices parents make – so I felt compelled to spread the word about this issue and what parents must do to ensure the safety of our little ones.
What most people do not know is that in the state of Ohio there are more regulations and qualifications needed for an individual who cuts hair or gives a massage than for those who provide child care in their home. In Ohio an individual can legally care for up to six children in their home without being licensed, certified or in any way regulated by the state. This means that for these individuals there are no standards for the care they offer. Background checks and even basic safety measures are not required. Providers of family child care can opt to become certified with the county, or if they live in Southwest Ohio or Miami Valley they can become registered with 4C. 4C registered providers are required to meet safety standards and undergo a background check, but these standards are considered by most to be very minimal.
The good news is Ohio is in the process of changing regulations around family child care – soon family child care providers will become licensed. Kentucky already has these standards in place for family child care and the changes in Ohio will better ensure the safety and quality of family child care in our region. However, even with regulations and licensure in place, it is ultimately the responsibility of the parent to ensure their choice for care is the right one.
When it comes to choosing care, all parents should consider the following:
- Visit several potential providers. Ask questions, use checklists and look for the standards of care you feel are important for your child. Find out about the other adults and older children that will be in the provider’s home when your child is there.
- Look for a provider that you feel good about – someone you can trust.
- Ensure your provider allows for observations and visits so that you can stop by at any time to check on your child. And be sure to stop by unannounced.
- Listen and pay attention to your children. If there are behavior changes or your child is telling you things that are of concern – listen and follow-up.
I do not believe that parents knowingly put their child in danger of being harmed. Yet we continue to have situations where children are harmed because of the choices made by their parents. My intention is not to beat up parents, but to encourage parents to slow down, pay attention and trust your instincts. You have the right and must take the time to choose a child care provider who will care for your child as much as you do!