CINCINNATI — Child care industry insiders shared specific steps parents can take to research and choose safe child care providers just one day after police said surveillance cameras caught an employee assaulting a 1-year-old at a West Price Hill day care center.
“When you talk about leaving your child in a facility anywhere between five to nine hours a day, you want to be sure that child is being cared for,” said Cheryl Spencer.
The state consistently awards Spencer's TOTally Kids Learning Center in Cincinnati with the highest, five-star accreditation. She said parents looking for child care should first find out if they can afford a place that meets Ohio's Step Up to Quality standards, indicating the facility has a goal of quality care and education.
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services offers vouchers if a family cannot afford most child care centers, and many facilities charge based on income.
Once a family finds a child care facility they are interested in, they are encouraged to go online and search the place's name here.
Judy Leonard, chief of Hamilton County Job and Family Services' child care section, said the search will provide compliance reports and complaints documented in detail, showing families potential red flags.
“Non-compliances are put into three categories: low risk, moderate risk and serious risk. Obviously, the serious risks are those big ticket items like a background check. Low might be, maybe, forms were missing,” said Leonard. “So, to me as a parent, that might not be as important because there are a lot of forms, there are a lot of steps that the providers have to take, and they do miss those occasionally.”
Leonard said if the provider is continually not coming into compliance, that would be a red flag.
If a family approves of the public records, Leonard said they should visit the facility or home.
“Speak to the provider while they have other children there so you can see the daily routine, see the cleanliness of the home, the food menus,” Leonard said. “I would ask if they have any cameras, if there are firearms in the home.”
Leonard said to take a look around the yard where children might play outdoors or check for locks and other security measures. If COVID-19 restrictions limit visits, see if outside agencies stop by, too.
“We have teachers, family support workers,” Spencer said.
Spencer said families should ask their prospective provider, “Do you conduct daily health checks? Can I call anytime during the day? Will I get videos or pictures of my particular child during their day?”
If any child gets hurt, Spencer said managers should roll through video footage with a parent to see what happened.
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