Childcare Provider Safety Means More Than Childproofing by Melissa Newby
You have plugs in all your outlets, locks on all your cabinets, and have crawled the floor looking for any dangerous items within reach of a toddler. Your home may be safe for children, but there are other steps you should consider to plan for safety.
Consider creating a kit in case you and your childcare children need to leave your house in a hurry. Make an emergency card for each child that includes the child’s name, parents’ names and contact information, emergency contact information, any know allergies or medical conditions, and other information about each child that would be critical to have. Store all the cards in an easy to grab container, like a recipe box, and keep it someplace secure, but easily accessible in a hurry. You may also want to have emergency supplies like food, water, and a first aid kit included in your emergency kit.
Being accessible to potential parents is important for finding new children, but you also should take steps to keep you personal information safe. Consider not listing your actual street address in any advertising you do. Rather, list a close intersection or land mark – “near the corner of 15th Street and Logan Drive”, or “behind Southaven Shopping Mall”. This way, parents can get an idea of where you are located, but you can give your actual street address only to those you have spoke with and feel comfortable knowing exactly where you live.
The same holds true for your phone number. Current technologies let people find your exact address even if they know only your phone number. Consider using a cell phone for business calls. If you do use your home number, ensure that everybody who may answer the phone knows to tell callers you are not able to come to the phone, instead of saying you are not home. Never give out personal information over the phone. Instead, consider giving prospective childcare parents information only when they meet with you in person.
You also need to consider guardian and custody issues when caring for children. When parents fill out an application, ask if there are any custody issues you should be aware of, like a non-custodial parent who is not supposed to have contact with the child. Do not give out information about children over the phone and do not confirm that a child is in your care if a caller asks. If somebody other than the parent is going to pick a child up from care, ensure the parent approves it beforehand and make sure the adult picking the child up shows identification.
Many childcare providers have an ‘open door’ policy, meaning parents can stop by at any time. This is fantastic for parents with children currently in care, but can pose some risk. When your door is unlocked, make sure all children are within your sight, to ensure nobody accidentally gets outside. If you are not within eyesight, or at least hearing, of your front door, lock it and hang a note asking parents to ring the bell. This decreases the chances that somebody could walk into your house without your knowledge
Caring for children means you are responsible for their safety. A little planning can help increase your home’s safety. Stay aware and alert so that you and the children in your care stay safe and are able to have a fun and educational day.
About the Author
Melissa Newby, MSW, has worked as a therapist and in marketing. She also co-founded www.daycarematch.com with her husband