My “other” gig besides writing on Medium, is as a Licensing Officer and Investigator for child care programs. It is a high paced, stressful, crazy ride every week. This one has been a bit more high stress than some, but overall, it’s been a pretty standard glimpse of what my past 6 years has been.
As I am sitting with my glass of wine, after having a nice supper, I cannot help but look back reflect on the lessons this week has taught me, and how resilient (or numb) I have become in my role.
Let’s take a peek, shall we?
Wake at 7 am. On the road to go see a daycare program as they have an outstanding non-compliance that needs to be followed up, for safety:
Drive for an hour through traffic and arrive at the program by 7:45. The daycare supervisor is there, awaiting my arrival. Last week they had an Autistic child walk out of the program, unseen. He was found by another child’s parent, roaming the school grounds alone. He is non-verbal and 6 years old. He was reported missing for approximately 25 minutes. The staff of the childcare never noticed that his absence. The non-compliance was issued for supervision and not meeting the developmental needs of a child.
Afternoon, an unannounced inspection to a pre-school. Everything was great, children were safe and having fun. The staff was engaged in play with the children, and it was rainbows and butterflies.
Up at 5:00 am, and in the shower. Today is an office day, and my commute is well over 90 minutes to sit at my pod and do paperwork, paperwork, and yep, MORE paperwork.
In the afternoon, we had a team meeting (there are 24 of us) and I tried to focus on what was being said. Medium is always a welcomed distraction while everyone babbles around me about the same things we spoke about at the last 5 meetings. I fret about my incomplete paperwork and wish I could go to my desk and finish it.
As we are sitting in the boardroom, an administrative assistant comes in and announces that a mom was dropping her child off at a day home. She took him out of her van, turned around to retrieve his diaper bag, and he ran into the street. He was struck by a car and killed. He wasn’t even 2 years old yet.
The entire boardroom goes silent and tears slide down our collective cheeks. The shock breaks up the meeting and we all walk slowly to our desks, thinking how unimportant our mounds of paperwork actually are. I can no longer focus any attention and sit at my desk, staring off into space, mourning that child and thinking about how fast life can change.
I silently say thank you to my boss for not assigning me this investigation. My heart breaks and I spend two nights having nightmares about being the mom and the driver of that vehicle. My soul feels crushed.
I am assigned an incident where an after-school care program went to pick up the children with their bus after school. One child didn’t come to the meeting place, and his parents were contacted. After 40 minutes (yes, you read that right) the childcare decides to call 911.
The child was found at his home almost 5 miles away. He walked across two busy 4 lane roads in rush hour, and the parents have no idea how the 6-year-old knew how to walk there. They had never walked him to the school and were stunned that he found his way home. His dad said that he “couldn’t imagine how he found his house. We always drive him and he takes the bus after school”.
The child was angry at the daycare for not allowing him to climb on the indoor play climber the day before — he was fighting with another boy. So, he decided he hated daycare, snuck out a back door, and made his way home.
Wednesday afternoon, paperwork, reports, analysis, and phone calls from my home office.
Unannounced visit to a daycare in the morning (8:00 am) and have a long discussion with the staff about supervision while diapering babies. The changing table is turned against a wall, so the daycare staff’s back is to her group of children as she diapers. After watching her diaper, she didn’t wash her hands or the child’s. Two toddlers collided while she was busy changing the diaper, and no other staff was in the room to help her. One toddler had a large goose egg on her head, the other fell backward and would be sent to be examined for a mild concussion. As I watched all of this unfold, seated on a tiny toddler chair taking notes, I wanted to cuddle the children, but my position doesn’t “allow it”. Poor little sweeties with owies.
Afternoon was being stuck for over an hour in a traffic jam, trying to see a preschool. It never happened, because the traffic jam took so long, preschool was over. Went to an out of school care program instead and watched a staff member yell at a child for not sharing a toy he brought from home. Had a lengthy conversation with the supervisor and issued 3 non-compliances for Inappropriate Discipline, not meeting the needs of a child and to top it off, the program attendance wasn’t accurate.
Went home and did paperwork until 6:00 pm, then lead a presentation with two colleagues, teaching Child Care Regulations and Effective Supervision. Basically, our presentations are all about the horror stories we see in our daily work, and how to AVOID them. Some of the stories include:
>That time when a program lost a child at the zoo.
>The other time when a child suffered a fractured femur while at the zoo.
>The next time, when a child was bitten by a lemur at the zoo.
>The time when a child had a bad reaction to his first ever bee sting at the park and went into anaphylactic shock.
>That time when a daycare took their children on city buses and lost half of them when they got on the wrong bus.
>That time when an out of school program lost a child at a lake (spoiler: the child was sleeping under a tree for over an hour)
> Those times we have seen children have febrile seizures at nap time.
> That time when a toddler was sent to lay on his mat for an-time, right after lunch and he choked on a piece of cookie he had pouched in his cheek.
Home from teaching the presentation at 9:30 PM-exhausting day.
Drove 2 hours to a program that is beyond city limits in a rural area. This daycare has had over 30 non-compliances issued to them over the past 6 months. It has uncertified staff, and some of the major concerns we have identified were inappropriate discipline when a staff pulled a child out of the sandbox by one arm, ratios of staff /children, supervision concerns, and many more. The risk factor to the children in care was dangerously high, so a colleague and I are at the daycare center every month unannounced, to see that the kiddos are safe.
Afternoon, drive 2 hours back to the city and visit the out of school care program who had the child go missing last week. As I walk in the door, they report that it happened again, at a different school. This time, the child left, and couldn’t be found ANYWHERE. 911 was called within 15 minutes and no one from the school or his parents knew where he could be.
It turned out, the 5-year-old decided to go to his friend’s house after school, without telling anyone. The babysitter in his friend’s house never thought to contact the boy’s parents for consent. Half of the neighborhood, the police, the school staff, and the childcare were on red amber alert in search of this child. He was found, after the school principal went through every child’s name and phone number, calling all of the parents. He lucked out after 18 terrified phone calls, and the babysitter answered.
Thoughts run through my head-what could have happened to the small child in the 2 and a half hours he was missing. So relieved that he was found safe. Go home, look at a bottle of wine, but opt to work out instead.
The very same program, that has over 300 children in attendance, had reported a child with a broken finger and another child with a broken collarbone, within the past 4 days. The broken finger was from a child slamming a bathroom door on his friend’s finger. The broken collarbone was a freak accident- a child came off the slide sideways and landed on her shoulder on a grassy surface. (Broken bones occur frequently in children — too frequently. I think it’s because of a lack of calcium in their bodies. Kids don’t drink “dairy” anymore, with all the soy and almond milks and other crap that parents are convinced they need). Sorry if that offends any of you, and I get that FEW children have allergies, but they don’t get calcium from fruit roll-ups and McDonalds Happy Meals either.
(That should have been my inside voice).
I will be conducting the investigations for the injuries on Monday.
Previous to this past week, one investigation was done at a daycare, where a parent walked in to drop off his child, just as a staff took a swing to hit another child. He emailed the parent of the hit child, and a full-blown investigation was done, by yours truly.
The program has inside security cameras and I watched over an hour of video to see if there was enough evidence to have the staff relieved of her duties.
I saw it. I saw her put her hand up. She was an East Indian lady, who is around 60 years old, and I interviewed her. She is actually a very sweet lady.
She put her hand up, to motion for the 4 children in her room to stop running around, and to sit down for breakfast. It was a “stop gesture” with her raised hand, and definitely NOT an attempt to hit a child. Looks can be very deceiving, sometimes.
I am so happy that she is a kind lady, and that the allegation was misconstrued. She has been a staff at the program for 15 years and her file had no past infractions. *phew*
And that brings me to tonight. I am sitting, enjoying a glass of wine, contemplating eating my weight in M&M’s and then feverishly working them off in a run tomorrow. I am thoroughly enjoying my wine. It is definitely not always the answer, but after this week, I feel it’s warranted.
My career is far from glamorous, and I know some of you are parents with daycare and school-aged children in care. I am not wanting to alarm you in what I see every day in child care programs. In fact, many child care programs are amazing! But, shit does happen when you entrust other humans with your precious kiddos. Just like accidents and incidents can happen at home, while your babies are in your care, it can happen at daycare. They may have all the appropriate toys and equipment, educated staff and meet all of the standards and regulations, but shit still happens. They are all human beings and they ALL make mistakes; even your kiddos.
Every single day, in my life, I learn new lessons. I hear new stories and my eyes roll, or I feel frustrated at people for not being careful with these tiny precious gifts. But, the take away is that SHIT HAPPENS. We cannot bubble wrap our children and expect them to grow up, into outstanding, strong humans.
When I was a child, I walked to and from Kindergarten, in all types of weather, for 8 blocks or more. My parents didn’t walk me, and sure as hell didn’t drive me! I played outside, on the road, with my friends when I was in elementary, and only came inside when I heard my mother yell my name. I drank cow’s milk and ate real food. I stood on top of monkey bars to jump off on top of boy’s underneath. I climbed trees. I rode on those crazy-ass merry go rounds until I felt sick to my stomach. I swam in mud puddles and dugouts unsupervised. I got up on Saturday mornings and walked to the “big kid’s” school to play on their swings and monkey bars because no one was there. My parents had NO idea I had left the house because they slept until noon. I would come home, make them coffee (ON THE STOVE) and wake them up after I had played for a few hours.
AND I LIVED.
Our world is full of dual-income parents now. It was when I was young as well. With dual incomes, you need to have trust in others to raise your children. Period.
It’s up to you who you let them grow up with. Do your due diligence in finding the “right care”. But, also, you need to realize that you may not be there for milestones, like losing a first tooth, taking their first steps, saying their first words, or breaking their first bones. You may not be there the first time they get stung by a bee or have their first febrile seizure during naptime.
It’s a part of life.
My role is to help to make sure that the people who care for your kiddos are following the rules. My role is to find out WHY shit happens and to hopefully ensure that it doesn’t happen again. My role is to ensure that the place where you take your child, is monitored and accountable for everything that happens through the course of a day, week, month, and years to follow.
Every state and province has licensing officers, like me, in some capacity. If you ever have questions, concerns or need clarification on the regulations/rules that the child care programs are supposed to follow, call and ask us. We are usually very nice people.