What to look out for when choosing a daycare

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Choosing a daycare for your little one isn’t always an easy choice. It comes with a lot of questions, like how do I know my child is in good hands? And what do I look for?

In a special report WJTV is looking in to how the Department of Health regulates childcare centers and what makes a safe and reliable place to leave your children.

Global Connections Daycare is filled with groups of well-behaved, different age children, sitting quietly, listening intently to their teachers.

Director Nancy Sylvester says her secret to a successful childcare center is simple.

“You have to really love and care for children you have to understand the children at the level that they are and what’s important to them,” Nancy Sylvester, director of Global Connections said.

Of course, there is much more that goes into regulating a daycare.

Employees with the State Department of Health did not want to be interviewed, but they did tell us that each year they conduct two unannounced inspections of every licensed daycare in the state.

They look for failure to maintain the minimum staff to child ratio, unattended children, failure to conduct background checks for employees, and a lack of CPR and first aid training.

“I see all of those reports with children who are left alone, but that will not happen here I think it’s so important because based on the age of children also things can happen so quickly,” Sylvester said.

Since the beginning of this year, the department has inspected about a thousand childcare centers within the state. 7.5 percent of those daycares had violations.

If a daycare continues to have violations the state will hold a hearing to determine if their license should be revoked.

The department also works with Mississippi Building Blocks which is a state funded program that provides hands-on help for daycares. The director spoke with us about what parents should look for.

“A childcare center that has an open door policy would be the first thing you know can I see the classroom do you mind if I come in and just peak in there a lot of childcare facilities will have camera access where a parent can just log online and see the day to day of their child,” Mississippi Building Blocks Director, April May said.

She says to pay attention to detail, even looking at how much effort went into decorating the classroom.

“You can look at the toys and see what kind of repair they’re in you can look at the classrooms and you can see whether or not there are adequate learning materials or materials that are appropriate for the child’s age level or have or how that center looks or how the teacher might greet the child if they bring them in before they enroll them,” Sylvester said.

A lot of the time parents are looking for more than basic requirements, they want their children to be learning at a young age.

“They want to see the work that their children are doing they want to know that they’re achieving they want communication from the school,” the director of Global Connections told me.

That is something Mississippi Building Blocks has helped Global Connection daycare to achieve.

“We work toward fully preparing the child for school we even take a look at common core to make sure we’re meeting all of the standards that are there,” Sylvester explained.

“You don’t have to have an elaborate curriculum you don’t have to have 7 to 8 centers inside the classroom but if you would just have communication with the child and engage in communication and conversation with that child then that speaks volumes,” May added.

With all of that in mind, both ladies say it all comes back to one thing that lays the foundation for a good childcare center.

“A good facility starts with a caring and loving staff teachers that are going to love on those children and give them what they need in order to be ready for their next step,” May concluded.

The MS Department of Health sends out emails every two weeks with updates on the daycares they’ve inspected and what violations were found

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