Just a 'warning' from personal experience up in Canada about what can happen if you expect the govt to watch over your children more than you yourself do (or should). I work in childcare and have done for over 20 years, 17 of them being at the same preschool/daycare center. We have jumped through every govt hoop thrown at us (in my province, it is illegal to look after more than 6 children without being a Licensed and Inspected Daycare). That rule has been there for eons, since before I started in the field - but it has become far worse and I really do not think many parents realize just how much control the govt gains when they pass the reins from themselves to 'officials'. I understand the reason behind most rules and regulations - but at the end of the day, parents themselves should be able to figure out if a center/dayhome/sitter is good for their child. Show up unexpectedly, take the time to look around every single day for a couple minutes instead of being late for work and throwing your child in the door before dashing back out (which an extremely high percentage of parents do these days), etc. If it's dirty and gross you WILL see it if you actually look - you should not need the govt to show up every 6 months to check it for you. You are there every day. If your child is unhappy, you should be able to tell if you pay attention and listen, or watch for certain cues, or like I said above - show up unexpectedly to visit and hang out (most daycare centers should have an open door policy, it's your child afterall. If they don't - find another place!!). It really should be easy. But parents over the years have screamed and yelled at the govt to inspect more, regulate more, be the overseer, etc and I can tell you right now that it is literally strangling childcare centers to the point of them wanting to close their doors and give up - if that keeps happening, you won't have anywhere to take your child one day. It's important to think about that.
I am writing this because today my center was told we did not pass our 'Accreditation' inspection. Accreditation started in about 2005 in my province as a way for all centers to be working 'above and beyond' the basic rules and regs set out by the govt - but it too is a govt body, separately. Parents welcomed this idea and today we got the letter of doom. We were very upset because we have bent over backwards for YEARS to keep this up, and I literally spent the last 6 months doing extra paperwork every single day to bring us up to even more 'new standards' and we failed. That means a loss of funding, loss of wage enhancement - and if we cannot win our appeal, that means our parents will have to very suddenly pay about another $100 a month on top of their current fees so that we can keep running. I make a couple of bucks above minimum wage, so it's not like I am being greedy. And it's not like we wanted wage enhancement - we are forced to take it, as in it is deposited into the center's bank account each month - IF we are accredited. When this process started, wage enhancement was given to everyone no matter what - but the powers-that-be changed it to accredited centers a few years ago. It is out of our control. We either follow the rules or we have to give up and close down - OR charge the parents heeps more money, which directly affects them and may cause some to have to give up their job and stay home, or find a new center that they might not even like, but is the only one that has spaces...... What wonderful choices courtesy of the govt AND people who demand the govt step in.
I do not know if many parents understand what they are setting off when they write letters or place phone calls to the govt to ask them for more regulations, I really don't. We failed because my boss no longer has written proof that she checked her staff's references (we have all worked there more than 10 years each so we did a paperwork purge awhile back, and reference proof was never needed before now anyway). We failed because we do not do a daily programming calendar for each of the three groups. Why don't we? Because parents NEVER look at it. And I really do mean never. I can think of two parents in the past 5 years who actually stopped, occasionally, to look at the daily calendars to see what each group is up to. All we have been doing is one monthly calendar with a daily theme written in - we failed our Accreditation because of that. But parents do not actually LOOK at this, even though many have apparently expressed to the govt that they want centers to do this. Now the govt wants us to write a daily detailed program including everybook we plan to read, song we plan to sing, activity, etc for EACH Day. But parents do not read it, so why waste staff hours working on this, totaling roughly 230 pages a year, times 3 groups,,, 600+ daily lists that no one will read?
We failed because we do not have a written daily communication book for each parent. Why don't we? Because we cannot even get all 21 parents to sign their own child in and out each day. There are some that do, but too many that do not. They don't read newsletters (only about 25% of parents read school/daycare newsletters on average), they do not return field trip forms on time, they do not read big signs posted around the center to remind of field trips, holidays, special days, etc. they don't read that stuff and certainly do not take the time to read and sign a communication book (not to mention the fact that the original govt body tells us NOT to do paperwork while we are with a group of children, so I'm not exactly sure when we are supposed to write in a communication book!).... We failed because of those things. all things that parents have asked the govt to be in control of at one time or another - and all things that a parent can easily do and ask about themselves.
Our center and others (esp smaller, more family-oriented ones) are drowning under so much paperwork, they are considering closing down. That is more people out of work, like myself, a mother of 3, and tons of parents without childcare so their own jobs are put at risk. All because of this big call for ''The Govt" to step in and be co-parents of your children. It's really sad. I used to love my job so much, I came in every day looking forward to the trials and tribulations of watching little children grow up and head off to school. Now I drag myself into work and find myself putting far more effort into creating a paper trail for the govt to check up on as 'evidence' that we are a good center, instead of putting more effort into making sure the kiddos in my care are happy healthy and having fun learning experiences.
And on par with most govt programs - we got the letter today and only have until Monday to file and mail an appeal. Um......????? If we need something from them, it can take weeks or months (like a child welfare check taking 3 weeks this year when there is nothing to report on any staff member anyway and we have to redo them every 3 years, along with a police record check that takes over a week) - but if they want something from us, we get 24 business hours to comply. Reminds me of when someone owes taxes and they get the letter 5 days before a chunk of money is due, or they incur a penalty (up here at least) - but if they goofed up and owe you money, it takes at least a month if not several months before the money comes back to you.
So just a warning to those in here who may be 'on the fence' about govt involvement in things like childcare. Since when did parents stop asking for proof of police checks or use their own eyes, or request a communication book if they really want it? Instead, the govt demands it and then a good center with the lowest staff turnover in the city, if not the province for all I know, gets the shaft and told they are not good enough. What a wonderful govt system this is!
Edit to add: Wanna know the one thing we did NOT lose points/score on? Our direct interactions with the children. We got a 100% score on that, which was the largest part of the whole process, but still managed to fail based on a lack of certain kinds of nefarious paperwork. That really makes a whole lot of sense, doesnt it? Is that what parents wanted when they asked the govt for help?
Edit to add: We also lost points for not having Incident Reports on file. these are for anytime a child gets an owie, or shows up at school with a strange bruise, etc. Guess what? We have none on file because we have not had a child injured at the center in any way for over 6 months and before that, you did not need to keep incident reports unless it was serious - needing medical attention from outside sources. We lost points BECAUSE we try hard not to let the kiddos hurt themselves. Oh boy. that's a good one!
Final warning - all it will do, when asking the govt for 'help' in matters such as this, is cost YOU more money. Since this process started, our fees have gone up from $450 a month to $630 a month, with loss of some services in between like hot lunches now being bagged lunches from home, in order to pay for the extra staff hours needed for compiling paperwork that no parent has EVER asked us to see. Not one single time. It costs money to get the govt involved - when will people finally realize this?
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