Parents urged to inspect day care center safety - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Parents urged to inspect day care center safety

August 30, 2007

Albany -- One of the toughest decisions we ever make as parents is choosing a child care facility.

 Accidents can happen at even the safest of facilities. And while day care centers are inspected by state employees, experts say it's up to us to make sure our children are in good hands.

Happy children playing at the Family Tree, an early education program accredited and licensed by the National Childhood Development Center. They meet tough standards aimed at protecting the youngsters who attend.

Most child care centers in South Georgia do not meet those standards, but they are bound by state regulations. Child Care experts, who counsel day care centers on safety, say parents have to take the lead in safety inspections where their son or daughter stays. Child Care Resource and Referral Director Soraya Miller said "parents need to visit child care programs and eagle eye class rooms before they every enroll their child."

The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning puts out an overview sheet to help parents when they inspect child care centers, advising them what to look for.

 How many children are there for each caregiver to watch over? Are there first aid kits and fire extinguishers available? Are there emergency numbers posted near telephones? Those are all mandated by the state. But you should also check for noticeable safety hazards, like heavy objects like televisions or furniture that a child could climb on? Are their electrical outlets without safety covers? Are their locks on drawers and cupboards to keep children out? Does the playground equipment have impact absorbing surfaces, like wood chips or ground up rubber?

Experts say parents must be on the lookout for quality standards. Miller said " standards they may find some that are not up to. They do exist, we know that they are there. And we are trying to help them the best that we can. But that's why parents need to be informed."

Georgia law says all licensed day care centers must be inspected three times by a year by state inspectors.  They come more often in case of complaints. And those inspection results are available for parents to check for the last year.

But parents are advised to be the most strict inspectors, checking the safety at the center they entrust with their children's safety.

Parents should also check their child care center for disease prevention, watching for hand cleaning, and cleaning snack and food serving areas.

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