All Day Cares Need a Safety Rating

DaycareAny mother who has ever looked into finding the right day-care situation for her child can tell you that the process is no picnic. Not only are you struggling to feel your way through your own emotional labyrinth (the guilt, oh, the guilt!), you're also trying to find your way through what can feel like a confusing maze of considerations, with very little information to light the way.

Apparently recognizing this, the state of Georgia has just rolled out a day-care rating system that will not only require day-care centers to have a daily schedule and a lesson plan, but also to show how those lesson plans tie into national education standards. The centers will be given ratings (good, very good, and excellent) that parents can view online.

More states should do as Georgia is and work toward offering parents more information as they try to find a safe, warm, loving day-care center for their kids. (Some, but not all, other states do.)

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Look, the Georgia system doesn't sound ideal -- Will the ratings also require on-site visits by state assessors? Will staff member qualifications be taken into consideration? Is it possible for a center to get a rating below "good," thus allowing parents to rule out sub-par centers? -- but it does sound like a start.

The process can be so daunting and mysterious for parents. I remember when my husband and I were looking for preschools for our son, we asked everyone we knew who had kids older than ours where they had sent their kids. Then we visited as many of the options as we could. Beyond those gut feelings and recommendations, we had very little to go on.

Ultimately, we were able to find a wonderful situation for our son -- and our daughter, when she grew to preschool age. But it would have helped to have some information -- some cold, hard facts -- to take into consideration as we made our decision.

No ratings system is perfect. All assessments likely have flaws. But information gathered independently and conveyed clearly by the state (in each and every state -- and going beyond what is required for licensing) would be incredibly helpful for parents who are making what feels like a huge and difficult decision for their families.

If more states did what Georgia is doing by seeking to provide parents with more information -- and even went further -- well, that would be just peachy.

Was it difficult for you to find the right daycare situation for your child?

 

Image via Mari & Nacho/Flickr

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