Safety Checklist For Daycares

Safety Checklist For Daycares

Parents and guardians expect daycare providers to make child safety a top priority. It takes more than having a basic first aid kit for the occasional bump and bruise to keep an entire classroom of children safe during the day. 

Our child care health and safety checklist will help you assure parents their children will be safe throughout the day in your care.

 

Location Security

When families drop off their children at your daycare, they need to be confident your center is safe and secure. You don’t need prison-level security, but you do need to have safety measures and systems in place so your building is safe for you, your staff, and the children. 

    • Position security cameras around your daycare center. One camera should face your parking lot, one needs to be facing the front desk, and other cameras should monitor areas inside the center. 
    • Put exterior-locking childproof locks on all doors and windows. 
    • Schedule regular building health and cleanliness inspections.
    • Create a sign-in and sign-out system for visitors and non-family members.
    • Clearly post your federal, state, or local child care center accreditations or certificates where parents and potential customers can see.  

Physical Safety

Children can get into all sorts of trouble during playtime. Your daycare center and playground needs to be as child-friendly as possible to keep them from getting harmed during the day. These safety measures should mostly be put in place before you open your facility, but regular upkeep or maintenance may be necessary. 

    • Regularly check playground equipment for splinters, protruding nails, rusty areas, or other parts that may need repair. 
    • Keep all unused electrical outlets covered with tamper resistant safety covers.
    • Put foam padding on hard floors and put down shock-absorbing material under any playground equipment. 
    • Cover any sharp corners with foam or other soft materials.
    • Keep all electrical cords out of reach of children and away from walking areas. 
    • Keep a gate at the top and bottom of staircases if you’re caring for babies and toddlers.
    • Make sure toys, furniture, and playground equipment are in good condition.
    • Regularly check your center for water damage, cracks and holes in the walls, mold, and pets. 

Emergency Preparedness

Your center needs to be prepared for any natural disaster or emergency situation that may occur during operating hours. How you should handle a power outage, data breach, or active shooter is different than how you should handle a fire, hurricane, or earthquake. Create a plan for each situation so you can keep your staff, yourself, and the children in your care safe no matter what happens. 

    • Keep designated emergency exits clear from toys, furniture, or other objects at all times.
    • Regularly test and replace fire extinguishers smoke detectors.
    • Regularly test carbon monoxide detectors.
    • Schedule regular emergency situation tests and ensure staff are aware of their role in an emergency.
    • Have a strong data security plan in place to keep people from stealing sensitive and personal customer information.
    • Place posters with emergency procedure information around the center. Include phone numbers for Poison Control, Child Protective Services, your local fire and police centers, and a map of the building with emergency exit locations. 
    • Share your emergency plans with parents and let them know what they should do in case of an emergency and how to contact you. 

Health Precautions

The individual health of the children in your classroom is also your responsibility as their daycare provider. Aside from keeping band-aids close at hand, there are other things you should do to make your daycare a safe place for the kids’ physical health. 

    • Keep a well-stocked first aid kit in every room— they should be easily accessible for employees and out of reach of children. 
    • Any over-the-counter medications should be in their original containers.
    • Any prescription medication parents give you for their child should be stored in their original bottle and inside a childproof container. The bottle should be labeled with the childs’ name, pharmacy name, instructions, dosage, and warnings.
    • Have a thorough daycare cleaning plan in place to slow the spread of illnesses. 
    • Make sure staff are aware of any children’ food allergies, and have an emergency EpiPen in case of an allergic reaction. 

From the moment a child steps foot on your daycare premises until they get picked up at the end of the day, their safety is your responsibility. You should revisit this daycare safety checklist on a regular basis to ensure you’re not forgetting any important safety measures. It not only keeps kids safe, it also gives parents peace of mind throughout the day, knowing their children are safe in your hands while they’re away.  

 

Separation Anxiety in Child Care

Separation Anxiety in Child Care

Tips For Teachers On Easing Your Preschooler’s Separation Anxiety

 

You know the phrase “distance makes the heart grow fonder”? It obviously didn’t factor in kids with separation anxiety. For young children, distance from their parents at the start of a new school year often leads to bouts of kicking, screaming, and crying for them to return.

Starting a new routine like preschool can be a difficult and stressful situation for kids. Their entire lives are changing and they’re thrown into a room of strangers. No wonder so many children (and parents) struggle with separation anxiety.

As a teacher, you have the challenging task of helping your students conquer their separation anxiety.

It may take a while for your students to get used to the new environment and rhythm. Be prepared for the first day of class to be difficult and tear-filled for everyone involved. But once your students have figured how to cope with their emotions, the rest of the school year will be a happier place for the parents, the children, and yourself.

 

Child Separation Anxiety 101

It’s natural for children to feel scared and anxious when away from their parents. Children who experience separation anxiety worry excessively when separated from their parents for any amount of time. Their anxieties can manifest themselves in a variety of ways:

  • They refuse to leave their parent’s side or be away from them at all.
  • They become easily agitated and have temper tantrums.
  • They often complain about stomach aches, headaches, or other physical illnesses.
  • They are anxious or emotional whenever they’re not by their parents.
  • They worry excessively about losing their caregiver. This symptom could be more prominent this year from COVID-19 worries.

Children can experience separation anxiety for many reasons. Environmental factors like the illness or death of a parent, or a worldwide pandemic, can make children cling to something stable in their lives. A family history of anxiety or mental health issues can also contribute to an anxiety disorder. Some  children’s personalities are also more sensitive to being away from their caregivers and can lead to separation anxiety. 

Teacher walking with two students

There’s no straight answer on how long a student will have separation anxiety issues. It could be just for the first few days or weeks of class until they’re comfortable in their new routine. Their issues could be solved and then return after a family vacation. It could ebb and flow throughout the entire school year. Since there are many home factors that are out of your control as their teacher, it’s crucial for the relationship of both your students and their parents for you to be patient during this stressful time in their lives.

Separation Anxiety Tips for Teachers

Having an open house before school begins is a great way to meet and form relationships with your students and their parents. It also helps the children to meet you in a positive setting alongside their parents. This shows them you’re an adult they can trust. Ask their parents about any health issues you should know about, how their child expresses their feelings, or if they have a preferred emotional coping tactic. Let the students explore your classroom beforehand as well so they’re not coming in cold to a new environment on that first day.

Be sure at this time to acknowledge the parent’s feelings about leaving their kids. They could be anxious about the process. This may be the first time they’ve left their child for an extended amount of time, and preparing their child for preschool can be emotionally taxing. Help ease their anxiety by answering all their questions and let them know how they can contact you should anything happen.

Creating a safe and fun classroom environment will go a long way in helping struggling students ease their separation anxiety. Allow children to bring a security blanket or toy with them if it makes them feel more comfortable. Hang photos of their family members around the classroom so they see a friendly and familiar face every day. Have them make an arts & crafts project to give to their parents at the end of the day. Making the classroom somewhere they want to come back to will help calm their anxieties.

Consider creating a visual daily schedule for students to follow—this helps children understand they didn’t get left behind by their parents and that they will see them again soon. 

If a student is struggling to leave their parent at drop off, it’s helpful to have distractions on hand. Toys can steer their attention away from their parents and help get them into the classroom. Let them know what activities they can look forward to—this will make it easier during drop off to get them excited for the day.

Separation Anxiety Tips For Parents

As a parent, your behavior will impact how your child feels about you leaving them for the day. This can be an emotional time for you, especially if this is the longest you’ve been away from your child before. But if you’re making a big fuss during drop off, your child will follow suit and become more anxious themselves. Keep morning goodbyes short and positive. Anything else will prolong your child’s anxiety and cement the goodbyes as a negative process. 

Your child takes social cues from you. If they see that you’re nervous or scared for them to leave, it will be much more difficult for them to adjust and grow in this new environment. It’s important to keep a positive attitude and show them how exciting this new adventure will be. 

It’s important to acknowledge your own emotions during this time—separation anxiety isn’t something that only children experience. You have a close and special bond with your child. It’s going to be difficult at first giving them space to grow and have new adventures without you. 

If you’re feeling separation anxiety, there are things you can do to make this change easier. Now is the perfect time to connect with other parents who may be feeling the same way you are. A support group can help you overcome your anxieties and can be a welcome distraction. You may now have a lot more free time during the day—stay busy with fun activities you didn’t have time to do before. It will help the day pass quicker and help you feel fulfilled in other aspects of your life apart from parenthood.

How To Help Your Special Needs Student With Separation Anxiety

Special needs children will need a little extra TLC when starting preschool. Depending on the child and their level of functionality, they may struggle to understand why their parents are leaving and why their routine is being drastically changed.

It’s normal for special needs children to have difficulties communicating verbally. So when they get anxious from their caregiver leaving, they may react physically, yell, or cry to express their emotions. This can be stressful for everyone in the room. But patience, understanding, and lots of love are key to disarming the situation.

When meeting the parents of your special needs student, get as much background information as possible to avoid future issues:

  • Stress coping mechanisms. Do they become violent when they act out? What do you do at home when they have an episode? What do you use to help distract them?
  • Personality. Are they more shy and withdrawn? Or loud and energetic? Do they work well in group settings? Or will group activities stress them out and cause an episode?
  • Routine. Routine is important for special needs children. They like consistency and struggle when that routine changes. When do they usually eat? Do they have any food limitations or preferences? What books do they like to read? What activities do they like to do outside? 
  • Comfort items. Many children have a physical security blanket or toy that can help them feel safe and connected to what’s already known for them. Do you have an extra comfort item in case it gets lost? 

You may have to bring in an assistant or aid trained to work with special needs students. It can be easy to blame yourself and feel like you “failed” because you couldn’t handle the situation alone, but you haven’t. Students with special needs can often be physically and emotionally overwhelming. They can lash out at you and your other students when anxious. That extra set of hands and training will help you create a healthy learning environment for everyone in the classroom.

Separation Anxiety During COVID-19

woman helping a preschooler with a face mask

With the new school year about to start, you may have to face a larger amount of separation anxiety in their classrooms than usual. The last few months have been difficult for parents to navigate. And many children have become accustomed to staying inside and close to their caregiver for the majority of the day. It will naturally be jarring for them to suddenly change their home routine.

It’s especially important for you to be sensitive to both the children’s and parent’s health concerns during this time. Parents may be more concerned about safety guidelines like face masks and hand sanitizers around the classroom. Make sure you have a strong classroom cleaning plan to help keep the environment as healthy and virus-free as possible. Your students’ physical well-being is just as important as their emotional well-being. 

New experiences can be scary—separation anxiety is a common issue almost every teacher will deal with during their career. It’s a stressful time for the child and can be an emotional process for you. But the work you are doing is essential to their emotional growth and development.

 

Millennials, Gen Z and the Future of Child Care

Millennials, Gen Z and the Future of Child Care

As a company submerged in the world of child care, we know how vital child care providers are to our economy. Child care is essential for working parents. Additionally, students who attend high quality child care facilities early in life develop stronger skills, are less likely to require special education classes, and are more likely to earn higher wages and have fewer interactions with the justice system as adults.

With an ongoing pandemic and an upcoming election, what does that mean for the future of child care? The answer relies on Millennials and Gen Z.

Millennials make up roughly 35% of the workforce, which makes their generation the largest generation in the U.S. labor force (source). Gen Z, while up and coming into the workforce, is reported as the hardest hit for job loss before and during the pandemic (source). The child care industry should look to these two generations to understand where the industry is headed.

 

Where do the younger generation’s priorities lie?

 

  • According to Next100 and GenForward, 81 percent of young adults (in these two generations) believe that access to affordable, high-quality child care is an important issue.
  • 72 percent of respondents said that the lack of high-quality child care programs and their cost is a barrier to achieving their professional goals.
  • This data is confirmed by the United States Census Bureau, which finds that one in five of working adults said they are not working is because COVID-19 disrupted their child care arrangements.
  • Of those not working, women ages 25-44 are almost three times as likely as men to not be working due to child care demands.
  • Millennials have also been slower to establish households than previous generations have been. They tend to get married and have children later in life. However, Millennials now make up the majority of annual U.S. births. If this trend continues into Gen Z, Millennials and Gen Z will be a topic of the child care industry for years to come.

How does cost factor in?

 

How could the election affect the future of child care?

 

  • Child care is a topic that transcends party lines. Young Democrats, Republicans and Independents all agree that child care is important. 86 percent of Democrats, 79 percent of Republicans and 76 percent of Independents identified child care as an important issue.
  • A whopping 92 percent of those surveyed from Care.com indicated that child care is a topic they feel should get more attention from the government as a result of the pandemic. 71 percent of families say that child care policies will impact how they vote in the upcoming election.
  • The Child Care is Essential Act, the Child Care for Working Families act and presidential candidate Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan could potentially add millions of dollars into the child care industry, expanding access for millions of families.

 

Younger generations are coming into the workforce and creating families in massive numbers. This means that Millennials and Gen Z’s employment decisions will be dependent on the child care industry for the foreseeable future. With COVID-19 and job loss among this demographic, cost and accessibility will be huge issues for those re-joining the workforce. These groups are now having families, so it’s no surprise that they will demand more affordable and accessible care. In an upcoming election year, the future of child care will be a hot topic with one of the largest groups of voting age.

Characteristics of High Quality Child Care

Characteristics of High Quality Child Care

Looking for child care or early childhood education is no small task. It can seem like there is an overwhelming amount of daycare centers all promising to give the most to the children who attend them. When a family is searching for a child care program, they need to understand what makes a child care facility high quality and why that is so beneficial to the development of their child. 

 

Several research studies show that high-quality early learning helps kids develop stronger language, math, and social skills upon entering school. Studies also show that they are less likely to require special education classes as they advance in their studies. Children enrolled in child care and early learning education programs are also more likely to earn higher wages and have fewer interactions within the justice system as adults.

 

What Are the Characteristics of High-Quality Child Care?

Specific characteristics are used to determine the likelihood of a quality child care program. Generally speaking, parents should be on the lookout for a center that provides a safe and nurturing environment, while still providing a stimulating learning experience. Knowing what to look for specifically makes choosing a center much less stressful for parents and much more rewarding for the children who attend. Some of the most important factors to consider are:

 

Small Class and Group Sizes

Small group size and class size mean more one-on-one time between teachers and students. It also allows teachers to create a stronger bond with the children in their classes, which in turn makes the children feel safe.

 

Staff with Higher Education and Continuing-Teacher Training

Centers that employ staff with prior teaching experience in early childhood development means that they know how to tailor the curriculum in developmentally appropriate ways. It’s also beneficial to be a part of an education program that encourages its directors and staff to further their skills, providing them the opportunity to evolve within the ever-changing landscape of the educational system. 

 

Low Staff/Teacher Turnover

This is beneficial for a few reasons. It allows the staff to stay familiar with the children and build stronger relationships. It also means that the team is well cared for by their employer and enjoys their job, making it far more likely for them to put extra time and effort into their teaching. 

 

Positive Teacher/Child Interactions

It’s essential to observe how the teachers at a child care center interact with their students. If the teachers seem stressed out or flustered, it can be a sign of poor organization or lack of leadership. The children should be in a positive environment where learning looks fun and organic, not chaotic.

 

National Accreditation and Licensing Standards

Child care centers that receive national accreditation and meet the minimum licensing standards demonstrate both the ability and the intent to provide higher than average care for the children who attend them.  It proves that they set the bar high and have the results to demonstrate it. 

 

Good Health and Safety Practices

Young children aren’t known for their health and safety practices. A large part of providing high-quality child care is ensuring that the children, teachers, and families who walk through the doors everyday practice proper safety, hygiene, and emergency protocol. Teachers should know what to do and who to contact in case of an emergency.

 

What Should Parents Look for When Touring a Child Care Facility? 

 

  • Try to schedule a tour that doesn’t take place at nap time. This way, they can see what goes on when the energy is high, and the school day is in full swing.

 

  • Observe the classroom sizes and how many kids are in each class. This will give parents an idea of the amount of time/attention teachers can give to each student.

 

  • Observe the average age of the teachers who are working. If the teachers are younger, it is less likely that they have been there long and is also a good indication that there is probably a high turnover rate at that particular daycare center.

 

  • Do the children look happy to be there? If there seems to be a lot of chaos and turbulence, it’s a sign that the teachers don’t have a good grasp on keeping the kid’s attention or performing under pressure.

 

  • How do the teachers handle conflict amongst the children? Are they able to access the situation and take control, or are the children controlling them? 

 

  • Are the students engaged, working on projects, age appropriate activities, and interacting with other children and teachers? Or are they watching a video and entertaining themselves?  Early childhood education should be hands-on and interactive rather than through a screen.

 

  • Is the facility clean? Parents should check bathrooms, changing stations, and all food prep and dining areas. Things should be kept tidy and spotless when not in use.

 

  • Do the teachers at the center know all the students and their parent’s names? This is an excellent indicator of the types of relationships they form with the children who go there and their families. 

 

How Can Daycares Provide a High-Quality Experience?

 

  • Provide families with access to knowledgeable, trusted staff

 

  • Keep class sizes small, so teachers and students don’t feel overwhelmed

 

  • Staff should get to know the families in the program and maintain a close personal connection with each student and their parents

 

  • Provide learning opportunities and encourage continuing education for all faculty members

 

  • Stay up-to-date and informed on the state and local guidelines for operating a child care facility

 

  • Check-in with students and their parents frequently to make sure you are on the same page about the education that is being provided

 

  • Make sure all staff is trained to deal with difficult or potentially dangerous situations

 

  • Provide teachers with adequate compensation and benefits to help reduce the rate of turnover

 

  • Make sure to provide a clean and healthy learning and teaching environment for all who walk through the door 

 

Choosing family child care or an early education center doesn’t have to be a headache and operating one doesn’t have to be either. Follow the above tips and guidelines to create a creative, learning-enriched environment that is both safe and nurturing for all. 

 

COVID-19 Childcare Business Survival Guide- How Can I Boost Enrollment During This Time?

COVID-19 Childcare Business Survival Guide- How Can I Boost Enrollment During This Time?

Depending on where you live in the country, you’re likely at least a few weeks into government mandated changes to day-to-day behavior in response to COVID-19.  Regardless of whether you’re living under a stay-at-home order or social distancing advice, if you’re finding it challenging to maximize student enrollment, here are some ideas to help.

Be Proactive With Your Parents

First and foremost, proactively address how your center is minimizing the risk of infection.  Parents are worried their children could get sick.  So, by acknowledging what you’re doing, you’re giving current and prospective parents peace of mind in a very unsettled time.

Publish what you’re doing front and center on your website.  An example would be, “At Smartcare School we are committed to keeping your children and our staff healthy.  We are following the advice of public health experts, by requiring these policies:

  • Temperature checks at drop-off. No child with a fever can attend that day.
  • Regular hand washing, especially any time a staff member or child enters the center or moves from one room to another.
  • Disinfecting staff and children belongings upon arrival.
  • Staff and children must always wear masks.
  • Children are kept separate as much as is possible.”

Look Out for Potential Enrollment Opportunities

The first place to start is providing care for essential workers.  Many essential workers are working more and longer shifts, and many have had their normal childcare options disrupted.  Many more might not know that your center is able to provide care.  Not only would you help an essential worker who needs childcare, but you would be contributing meaningfully to your community’s efforts to address the pandemic.  Here’s what we recommend:

First, reach out to employers of essential workers in your community such as hospitals, police departments, fire departments, grocery stores, and distribution centers.

It might take some effort but starting with a call or email to the general number and asking to speak with the organization’s HR department is the best place to start.  Once you’re in contact with the HR department, ask if they provide a list of childcare providers to their staff, and if they do, ask to be on the list, and if they do not, ask that their staff be made aware of your offerings.

Next, think about extending your service hours.

Most essential workers are not working normal “9 to 5” shifts, but they still need childcare.  Under normal circumstances, it might not have made sense to offer care outside of normal business hours, or it may have been difficult to find teachers willing to do so.  But we aren’t living under normal circumstances.  Offering longer service hours will allow you to care for more children.

Once you’ve contacted employers of essential workers and expanded your service hours to care for their children when they’re working, the next thing you should do is focus on local search.

Many parents, even those who aren’t essential workers, are looking for new childcare options.  Most of those parents use one or more of the following services to find care.  At a minimum, you should make sure you’re signed up for and have a complete profile with each service, which is normally free.  The list below includes links to sign-up if you aren’t already:

We hope this helps your center maximize enrollment in challenging times.  Most importantly, thank you for continuing to provide childcare to workers in all occupations.  Your efforts are the reason many people can continue to work today, and your efforts will be the foundation which will allows many more people to get back to work in what we hope is the not too distant future.

COVID-19 Childcare Business Survival Guide –  How Can My Center Use Small Business Administration Programs?

COVID-19 Childcare Business Survival Guide – How Can My Center Use Small Business Administration Programs?

During this unprecedented time, many childcare facilities are unsure about the future. This series of blogs covers ways to help our audience navigate this confusing time. As childcare centers navigate the events occurring in response to COVID-19, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has multiple programs available to help.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)

In order to qualify for an EIDL, your school must be in an area covered by a disaster declaration.  You can determine if you are in an area covered by a disaster declaration by visiting this site: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/Declarations/Index

If you are in a disaster area, then you will need to apply for an EIDL.  You can submit the application here: https://covid19relief.sba.gov/#/.  This is an online, step-by-step application.

To be prepared, have these items on hand:

  • Your most recent tax return
  • Business formation documents (such as your LLC agreement or articles of incorporation)

Note that the website underwent a major overhaul recently and many users have reported slowness, so be patient.  Expect to hear back from the SBA in about 3 weeks.  If your application is approved, then you will work with the SBA to determine the amount of a loan for which you qualify, up to $2 million, and the terms of repayment.

Advance on an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)

After you have completed the EIDL application (https://covid19relief.sba.gov/#/) you will also qualify for a $10,000 advance, issued before your application is reviewed, and possibly forgivable at a later date.

You must submit the current application on the EIDL site to qualify for the advance.  If you submitted the older application, you must re-submit an application using the new format to qualify for the advance.  You can determine if you submitted the old application by looking at the PDF copy, in the top right corner of the first page for “OMB No.: 3245-0017” which is the form ID for the old application.  If you are not interested in the advance, and you submitted the old application, then you don’t need to submit the new application.

Payroll Protection Act Loan (PPAL)

As part of the CARES Act, the government has authorized businesses to borrow 250% of their average monthly payroll up to $10 million.  Specifically, you will qualify for 250% of the average monthly payroll expense, including employer paid taxes and employer paid benefits, but excluding any compensation to an employee in a payroll period that exceeds $100,000 on an annualized basis.

Unlike EIDL, the PPAL program will be administered by private banks rather than the SBA.  Private banks that are current “SBA 7a” lenders will most likely participate, and other banks may participate as well.  All banks are currently waiting on the SBA to publish final rules and guidelines for the program.  The SBA has indicated that those rules will be published in the next 1-2 weeks.  After the rules are published, banks will open applications.

Based on reading the law, you can be prepared by having records for your total payroll by employee for the past 12 months as well as the past 12 months mortgage, rent and debt payments.  You will also want to keep records of all payroll payments, by employee, starting now through June 30 to qualify for loan forgiveness. The specific terms of the loan will be finalized with the lender.  We will publish an updated blog post when the SBA publishes its guidelines with more actionable information.

Find Local Assistance

In addition to the information above, the SBA has a tool to find business counsels in your area.  Visit: https://www.sba.gov/local-assistance/find/

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