You are probably in the childcare business because it can be very rewarding. However, childcare can also be stressful and challenging. It is important to make childcare a safe place for children. It is sad that some people believe that child abuse is common in childcare centers. That is not true. Child abuse does occur in childcare settings, but not often. But parents may have heard rumors about childcare and child abuse. They may be worried about leaving their children in childcare. They also may not trust what is going on in the childcare. Some parents may even make untrue reports about abuse and neglect in the childcare program. So, it is important for childcare providers to take steps to prevent child abuse and to protect themselves from false reports.
Some guidelines for preventing child abuse in childcare settings
• In most
states, it is against the law to use physical discipline in childcare.
Do not hit or shake children in your care. Do not use any kind of physical
discipline. Do not hit a child even in play. Learn positive
Protect yourself from false reports and charges
Child-to-Staff Ratio: Keep track of numbers. Know how many children you may have and how many adults need to be with the children. Then you should be able to take good care of the children and keep them safe. Sometimes the rules let you take care of more children than you think you can really handle. You may want to set lower limits for yourself than the rules allow. Caring for too many children can make staff tired and burn them out. If they are too tired, they could hurt the children. Know what the rules are in your area and for your kind of care. Also know your personal limits. You can find out more about laws for childcare in Indiana and in other states.
Watch the Children Closely: Make sure that you can hear and see the children at all times. You should be able to see and hear them even when they are sleeping. Never leave children alone. Count the number of children often to make sure they are all there. Counting is very important, especially when you take children from one place to another. The guidelines might be a little different with school-age children. They might want to play outside by themselves. If they are ready for that, make sure you get their parents’ written permission. Be very careful if you take children on field trips or to a swimming pool. Most states have guidelines you need to follow for those activities.
Staffing: If you hire other childcare workers in your program, check out job applicants closely. Call the people they list as references. Ask about their backgrounds. Ask the applicants about all the other places they have worked. Checking the person’s history carefully may uncover either good or bad patterns of childcare behaviors. When you talk to people who know her background, ask if there were any complaints about how she cared for children. Ask about how she disciplined children. You should also check if the applicant is old enough and has the right training. Look for more information about these requirements in Indiana and other states.
You also can guard yourself against abuse reports and charges by keeping
your doors open to parents. Invite parents to visit your childcare program
at any time while their children are there. Include this in your written
policy and contract with the parents. Every day tell parents how and
what their children did. Be sure to tell parents when you change discipline
methods. Tell them, too, if you see a health need or problem. Ask parents
what they think works best with their children. Talk with parents every
day. Also have regular, planned meetings with each set of parents and
talk to them about their children. Address any questions or concerns
they might have. Some issues you can discuss during the individual meetings
For more information, contact Judith A. Myers-Walls, PhD, CFLE at firstname.lastname@example.org
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