By Erika Rowell, Program Support Manager, Darkness to Light
As a new mother, I was tasked with the responsibility of choosing a childcare provider for my son. What a scary and overwhelming task this is for a parent! You’re choosing the people that will be spending 8 to 10 hours a day with your child. Going back to work after having a child is already a very emotional time, and knowing that your little person is in safe hands can make all the difference.
I researched and toured close to 10 centers before selecting the daycare my son now attends. When interviewing the childcare directors, I asked some very frank questions regarding their child protection policies. Of course one of the first things I asked was has their staff been trained in Stewards of Children® child sexual abuse prevention training? I was happy to hear that the daycare we selected was having their staff attend a training that very Saturday.
My next question was how does the center handle isolated one-on-one situations? As we know, 90% of abuse incidents occur in one-on-one situations. One-on-one time is important to a child’s emotional growth and development, but it does not have to happen behind closed doors. One-on-one interactions should take place in an open, observable, and interrupt-able setting. The center that we chose has windows in all of the doors, and windows overlooking the parking lot. This allows for observable interactions between the children and the teachers. In addition, in the early morning when only one child has arrived per room, they combine the classes, so that they form a group. This is a great way to eliminate isolated one-on-one situations.
It is also important that the organization have clear procedures for reporting suspicions or incidences of abuse. All fifty states require that professionals that work with children report reasonable suspicion of abuse. The center you choose should have clear reporting procedures. The daycare my son attends e-mailed me a copy of their policy, that clearly outlined their procedures for reporting suspicions or incidences of abuse.
Your child’s daycare provider should also welcome you to visit your child at any time, without warning. I make it a habit to show up unannounced. Just this past week, my husband dropped in early to pick-up our son without letting them know ahead of time. Make it a habit to drop in unexpectedly. I love arriving early to pick-up, and observing my son interact with his teachers and friends, without their knowledge. It reaffirms that we made the correct decision for our family, and I can see that my son’s teachers really care about his well-being.
Choosing a childcare provider can be scary, but by asking the right questions, it can be a very rewarding experience. I drop my son off every morning, and I know he is in safe hands. I know that they are doing everything they can to protect him, and ensure he is safe. This allows me to come to work, and do my job without worrying something may happen to him. Well, don’t get me wrong, I worry about that little guy on a regular basis! However, I have peace of mind about the steps my daycare is taking to protect my son from child sexual abuse.
Erika Rowell is the Program Support Manager at Darkness to Light and an Authorized Facilitator of Stewards of Children®. She is a new mom that is grateful for everything she has learned about protecting children from sexual abuse, using that information on a daily basis. She encourages all of her friends and family to talk about child sexual abuse prevention, and shares information on what they can do to better protect the children in their lives.
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