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Free Play Daycare Issues

post #1 of 77
Thread Starter 
Hi,
Sorry this is so long, but important. Lately I've been freaking out about our daycare situation and is DH.
We both work full time and can't afford to stay home with the kids. I have a 3.5 yr old DS and a 12 month old DD. When it was only my son, we took him to our neighbors until he was 2, but he didn't have a varied and active experience there, but it was cheaper and more affordable.

Then I came across a very laid back, 70's style free play daycare that was almost like a second family to us. Even though at the time they only took children 2 and up, they agreed and were excited to take in my daughter (who might have potential learning disabilities down the road because she has a genetic abnormality called triple x). So far, she seems to be developing normally and is very happy at this daycare, so is my DS. They have indoor wooden slides, indoor swings attached to the ceiling, rock climbing wall, a sort of tree house type structure inside that the kids can play in, and they are into all natural toys and ways of life--no plastics, just metal and wood.
However, with that comes their rather ecentric personalities. My DS has been going there for over a year now full time, and its very expensive ($6 an hr).
My DD started going there not soon after she was born.

Lately he seems to have a lot of accidents there, and since its not your usual daycare, it comes with more risks. However, the daycare folks (an extended family of three) believe in the free play concept, as I do and they also have a really neat backyard with all kind of different playscapes (including a zip line, rock gardens), etc.
They don't really believe that the kids have to be watched while they are in the backyard; that they are fine on their own, and there have now been enough small "near misses" and minor accidents with the kids that I think there will be a major accident there someday and I don't want it to be my kid.

The other daycares in town I just cringe at (learning ABC's when they are 2), and this place is very loving gentle discipline, Attachment parenting, everything I practice and they are like a close family.

My DS fell from a high place and hit his forehead on a very sharp trim that they had around a diaper changing area. It definitely doesn't have the "padded" walls of a main stream daycare, and my son had an indentation on his forehead for weeks. Also, one day they took my daughter in their car without my permission, in her car seat without the base. Another time, I was quite sure one of them was smoking pot while having a bath with my DD (I'm okay with the baths--my DD loves them and I'm ok with them giving her one) but not while smoking and potentially falling asleep and having a drowning.
Also kids have escaped the enclosed fenced area several times and there is a street nearby where cars go at least 35 mph. I love this daycare, but I think they are being too casual about the free play and the "watching." That's what I pay them for. I understand that accidents can happen anywhere, but..

My DH was very upset over another injury to my DS's lip the other night, but then when it comes time to going somewhere else or possibly confronting the issue, he backs down and says that maybe we are over-reacting and being over protective. I'm sure that many parents are ok with their kids playing in the backyard alone--but its the parents watching them in a backyard they know, not someone you are paying to watch your kids.

I'm pretty much settled on going somewhere else, except I'm not looking forward to the "ABC" daycares (we don't have an option to work at night or at home, etc). It's going to be hurtful to sever the ties. In the past, when I had a concern, they would remedy my concern for a day or two, and then it would go back to the way it was (rug over the sharp trim for two days and then back to the way it was). Sometimes they don't seem all there--if you know what I mean--either. I know I will follow my gut.

Have you had any similar experiences, and would you get your kids out of this situation immediately, or finish out the month and then go somewhere else? What to do? Does this sound dangerous or am I being paranoid?
I won't be able to answer responses until Monday. thanks for your help

Minaret
post #2 of 77
I'm one of the most laid back parents you'll ever meet and I do not think you are overreacting. I totally understand accidents happening in care (I work in the baby room of a MDO program and we have bumps all the time), but the escaping and pot smoking are WAY over the line.
post #3 of 77
I would absolutely lose it if someone transported my baby without a properly installed carseat. Just reading about it, I am having trouble not hitting the ceiling. I would get them out immediately.

The pot smoking while bathing with the child would get me too. I'd have personally wanted to start a CPS investigation over that issue.

I am not a fan of daycare curricula (because seriously? there's not that much rush to learn the alphabet), but I shrug and accept the academic aspects of my kids' daycare because the kids are safe and happy there. I think academics for little kids are dumb, but twenty minutes of academics in a day otherwise composed of age appropriate activities will not cause a child harm. And my son's imaginary flashcard game is a hoot and a half.
post #4 of 77
Alphabets don't kill children. Street access, stoned care providers with, by the rest of the description, plausibly badly supervised children in open water, and improper car seat use all do. Honestly I'm not seeing anything but a no brainer here.
post #5 of 77
I agree with MeepyCat - this is way over the line, beyond "easy going" and into the realm of negligent. Your child will not end up in the hospital with a serious injury from learning the ABCs for a fe wminutes per day. I would have pulled out a long time ago - they clearly do not take safety (or you) seriously, even after you have expressed concerns. Cool playscapes would just not be enough to make up for the lack of safety and negilgent attitude.
post #6 of 77
You know, I bet if you looked around, you could find a family daycare provider who is gentle and has age-appropriate unstructured playtimes with age-appropriate supervision while not sitting the children in rows to memorize the alphabet or whatever you're afraid the centers will do.

We had a lovely family daycare when my kids were younger. The DCP was great, had a lot of outdoor time. She might not have been groovy-crunchy, but she had the right stuff where it counted - dealing with the children gently, feeding them healthy food, getting them outside daily, reading to them, holding and carrying the babies all day if that's what the baby needed.

I think I would be very, very uncomfortable with the situation you describe.

My kids moved from the smaller family daycare to a center-based preschool when they were old enough. Not all centers/preschools are academic and drilling the kids; ours specifically said 'The Kindergarten teachers in town dont' want us spending time teaching them academics." The kids played outside for a minimum of an hour in both morning and afternoon -- more if the weather was nice. The playground may have had a few plastic Little Tykes toys - but it had a castle and bridge built out of the stumps of two trees lost to a storm. The teachers were wise and experienced and had a solid grip of what was normal and appropriate for children of the ages of the class, and the lead teacher in each room had been there for 10+ years.

Look and keep looking. You can find a place where your child is safe. It's important to let a 3yo explore the world, but it also important to help that exploration be safe.
post #7 of 77
That makes me think of that school in Auntie Mame where they are all running around naked


I would go all kinds of angry on a daycare that didn't have my child's carseat installed correctly.

I would be ok with a provider giving my child a bath but I would NOT be cool with a non-family member taking a bath with my child. Not.At.All.

It does sound like a lot of fun but there is a line between completely free and a complete lack of responsibility. I would be cool with free play, but an adult needs to be watching.

If you don't trust them to respect your concerns then I would just pull my kids out. That might be hard but that situation sounds way too scary for me.
post #8 of 77
Most infant car seats can be installed without the base (I can only think of one that does not) so that wouldn't freak me out. The pot smoking? I can see how that could bother somebody, but it wouldn't freak me out.

What does freak me out is that you as a parent are obviously not comfortable with the situation, and that would make me switch providers.
post #9 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by abimommy View Post

I would go all kinds of angry on a daycare that didn't have my child's carseat installed correctly.

I would be ok with a provider giving my child a bath but I would NOT be cool with a non-family member taking a bath with my child. Not.At.All.

It does sound like a lot of fun but there is a line between completely free and a complete lack of responsibility. I would be cool with free play, but an adult needs to be watching.

If you don't trust them to respect your concerns then I would just pull my kids out. That might be hard but that situation sounds way too scary for me.
So not OK! I can't believe you have willingly left your child there. I, too would have called CPS a long time ago. Honestly, I am stunned. April fools?
post #10 of 77
Escaping near a busy street would be a major problem for me and someone unsafely and without permission transporting my child in a car would be an immediate deal breaker.

As previous posters have said, the ABC's at age 2 can't cause serious bodily harm/death.
post #11 of 77
I'm positive you could find an in-home provider for the same $$ or less who would be more like a babysitter rather than a "day care". More customized care, less worries!
post #12 of 77
ok to summarize, your kids are at a daycare where the providers definitely are not up to code on basic safety stuff (and having worked at many daycares, I am the FIRST to admit that some of the regulations are ridiculous, but some things like sharp edges and supervision around water are just common sense). In addition they take baths WITH your child and may or may not be smoking weed while they are supposed to be supervising the kids?

I cannot imagine any normal daycare situation where the provider would have reason to bathe with a child, or where it would be appropriate. Even when I did home daycare and needed to bathe my own ds, imo with other children there that was not the time or place to hop in with him. I would probably have pulled my child out that day.

Is this place licensed? registered? Do other kids go there? I'm assuming there are other children and a number of caregivers if they can afford to maintain a place with all that great play equipment. I just can't fathom a scenario like this.

Oh and yes, I would pull my child out ASAP. It actually raises red flags because lots fo pedophiles have really cool over the top child friendly stuff to lure their victims. Not saying these people are pedophiles but that's sort of what it reminds me of....like the single guy with all the video games who lets all the tween boys hang out and play games in his house after school.
post #13 of 77
Quote:
Alphabets don't kill children. Street access, stoned care providers with, by the rest of the description, plausibly badly supervised children in open water, and improper car seat use all do. Honestly I'm not seeing anything but a no brainer here.
A great big huge

I would have my kid out of that daycare so fast my shoes would leave skid marks and I would look into filing a police report.
post #14 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by Minaret View Post
Another time, I was quite sure one of them was smoking pot while having a bath with my DD (I'm okay with the baths--my DD loves them and I'm ok with them giving her one) but not while smoking and potentially falling asleep and having a drowning.
OP, can you clarify? Was the daycare provider, naked, in the bathtub, with one of your kids?
post #15 of 77
Your son received a blow to the head so strong that it left an indentation for weeks. (yes, I know it was a fall, but that's one heck of a blow.)

They drove with your daughter's carseat improperly installed.

They smoke pot while watching children.

They have let children get out of their sight long enough to be wandering on a busy street.

And you pay well over $900 a month for this privilege?

If you really can't stand the other centers, find a nice in home daycare. Zip line or no, lack of varied experiences are unlikely to cause death or dismemberment. I'd even go with a more academic place.
post #16 of 77
You need new daycare.... ON MONDAY. End of discussion.
post #17 of 77
At my daycare they play outside for hours on fun little bikes, great slides, lots of little play houses, and even a balance beam. There is sidewalk chalk, and outdoor paint, and even little cars to pedal around on. There are at least three teachers watching my son who aren't stoned.

I also would never be comfortable with anyone besides us giving my son at bath at this age. And IN the bath with him? Hopefully that is just a misunderstanding from what you wrote on my part.

So what if they spend 20 minutes a day trying to teach my kid his colors (its working by the way)?
post #18 of 77
You report that your kids are in obvious mortal danger. Why is this even a question?
post #19 of 77
Mama! It's so hard finding a great place for your children! I can see how you thought you had found a great option! However, this is not a remotely safe situation. I do think that with enough looking, you can probably find something that is a balance between the free for all your kids seem to be in now and the rigid teaching ABC's at age 2. Although the ABC's won't kill, I wouldn't use that kind of center either! Have you tried looking at an advertising board at a local health food store, co-op, etc.? Do you have a local child care referral agency? Word of mouth from other parents? Try looking at NAEYC accredited centers in your area, post on Finding your Tribes here at MDC, University run and affiliated centers often are very geared around (safe) play based programming, maybe even an add on Craigslist explaining what you are trying to find?

Finding safe care is your first priority, but once your kids are safe, do report this place to the State! Perhaps finding the BEST place can wait? And they can go to one of those ABC's at age 2 places, or a trusted SAHM friend who could bridge the gap and earn some extra cash? Best of luck mama!
post #20 of 77
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