This is no joke, but I know that stories sound exaggerated when you can't see what is happening in person.
I don't mean that they send the kids outside and don't watch them AT ALL.
They just are not "helicopter" caregivers, a term someone used earlier. In summer, the kids are outside almost the whole day, besides eating and napping. Usually one of the three is outside, doing some gardening or rock work or sitting in a chair watching the kids while one is inside cooking or watching kids. However, when a few kids want to go outside alone to play, they will let them, while watching occasionally from the window.
However, the backyard is a really cool playscape with tunnels, a zip line, etc, and you can't see all the kids at once from the window, that's what worries me. They also have a stone water fountain on the back deck of the patio that is only 2-3 inches deep that kids can step into and do water play. I've never seen kids there without being watched. They couldn't drown there unsupervised unless one of them hit their head and fell into the water and nobody came to the rescue. There are always a bunch of kids there playing at the same time. They have a few small trees that the kids climb on their own, and yes--occasionally I worry that my son will fall the wrong way and get hurt, even though it's only a few feet down, but I like the fact that he can climb trees. Many kids don't do that anymore or can't do that because their parents are too protective. I did all those things when I was a kid.
They just began taking babies, my DD was the first, and then they decided to take more infants mixed in with the older kids. Originally they were going to rent another house, but the ratio with infants is different and was too complicated and I don't believe they were able to get a license, but they do have a license for this place, because I've seen it displayed. Many of the older kids who turned 4 have now left and gone to other daycares, much to the dismay of the other caregivers here. I don't know the reason for this, but they have several more young children signed up for the coming summer. The babies would never be unsupervised, they are very clear about that. In fact, they believe in "wearing" them or spending a lot of direct contact with them, one on one. They even asked DH (who had been unemployed for a while and spent time there helping out) if he would want to work full time as an extra caregiver. They were willing to pay him good wages but then still charge each kid while he was there, and it just didn't add up for me. By the end of the month, he would have still come home with hardly nothing. He would have made sure the kids were safe, he is very good about that, and he thought it would have been a good switch from his manual labor job. I make more money in the family and have the health care, so I couldn't have done it.
My DD isn't walking yet and I might switch her to another place when she is walking, but there are not many options for babies until they get to be 18 months, except for my neighbor. This morning I took my DS to my neighbor and my DD to the daycare. I dropped my DS at the neighbor and he cried (he doesn't like it there, prefers the daycare because there is more interaction with kids and he likes his caregivers. My neighbor is ok, too, just boring), and my DD thought she was going there too and started wailing!! When I took her later to the daycare, all the tears stopped, the other caregiver held her, and she didn't even notice me! I even came back because I forgot to drop something off, and she still had not flinched from the lap of the caregiver. She was very happy, that's what makes it so hard. DD has not being going much to the neighbor and I know this is why she cries, it will just take some getting used to.
DD and I take baths all the time together. I relunctantly still do so with my DS, too, but he's getting too big soon and needs to take them on his own. Is that weird for some of you, even within your own family? I'm just trying to get a sense for normalacy here. I do trust the women at this place to take baths, but they only do so with DD, not my DS. No one else has taken a bath with any other kid that I know of, and certainly not a male (there is one male who works there). Some of the kids will take baths together, but my DS is too shy to do so, but he will with us at home. I realize the point of my story is that she was smoking weed the one time, and that was NOT safe. And I did not feel comfortable with that and I still haven't talked with her about it. Besides that one incident, I have not smelled pot on any of them or ever witnessed them doing so while taking care of kids, but I do have the feeling and the knowledge from other people that they do "light up" when their day is done. I think they realize the implications if they were to "light up" while watching kids, and I think this was a mistake. Does it make me wonder if they do it more often after seeing it with my DD? I think I would be able to tell, because I have a nose like a bear. I guess I am making excuses.
I was so adamant last week that I was taking them somewhere else, but I'm having a hard time between the safety issue and the emotional/loving issue, which I think they are very good at. I will update more. For now, my DS goes there and DD goes there one day a week. I hope I don't regret this.