For many children, daycare is the place they spend around half their time, with the other half being at home with mom, dad, or another caregiver. But surprisingly, there haven’t always been a lot of rules aiming to protect and care for kids who are enrolled in daycare.
There’s also the fact that facilities often make their own rules, such as what times parents are allowed to pick kids up—no interrupting nap time—or what types of snacks they can send with their tots. Of course, most daycares create their rules and regulations for the kids’ best interests. Otherwise, we wouldn’t send our children there in the first place.
But over a decade ago, things were different. It seems like with the advent of social media—and more reporting than ever—worse and worse events are happening in daycares across the US and beyond. That resulted in a ton of new rules for daycares everywhere, with the ultimate goal of providing a safe, nurturing, educational, and enjoyable environment for young kids to spend time in while their parents work.
Curious about the changes that have happened with regard to daycares in the last ten years? Read on for 20 rules that are relatively new, and a few that are a bit surprising.
20 No Sleeping Switcheroos
Although it’s sad to say, many parents don’t have their children’s best interests at heart. Unfortunately, many parents are abusive towards their children, and many get away with it. There have even been court cases where daycare providers are blamed for injuries that a child sustained, only for it to come out later that the parents did the damage before dropping their tots off with the babysitter. For that reason, many daycares initiated a rule stating that kids have to be awake at drop-off. This way, care providers can ensure they’re healthy and alert, not already injured or ill.
19 Must Label Milks
With the eruption of allergies in today’s kids, it’s no surprise that parents often have to send allergy-friendly items to their kids’ daycares. But even for young babies, whether they’re formula- or breast-fed, parents are now having to label every morsel of food they send. Of course, most parents would be upset if their child drank another tot’s milk, and plenty of parents would be irate if their tot drank another woman’s breastmilk. Therefore, this labeling rule makes sense, though it may seem overkill to parents who have to prep the bottles and label them ahead of time.
18 Peanut-Free Premises
Ah, the peanut allergy. It’s, sadly, running rampant all over the US and practically the world. And it seems like more and more kids are being diagnosed with peanut and other allergies by the boatload. So daycares’ solutions usually involve banning peanuts (and sometimes all tree nuts) in their facilities. This way, kids’ exposure to peanuts is greatly reduced. Although, some kids still have severe enough reactions that merely touching a classmate can send them into anaphylactic shock if said classmate had a PB&J before coming to daycare. Unfortunately, some parents don’t take this ban seriously and continue to send nut-filled snacks—please don’t be that parent!
17 Special Snack Drawers
About eight years ago, I worked at a daycare that was basically state-of-the-art. The facility was hip to kids’ allergies and recognized the importance of cleaning and sanitizing stuff daily. We also had multiple drawers with labeled containers of snacks for kids with allergies. Looking back, it was actually a bit odd at the time, because I didn’t know any children with allergies. Now, of course, nearly every daycare will have special food set aside for kids with super severe allergies. Having a mix of foods and a variety of allergies made mealtimes not only messy but also dangerous—plus a test for the cook who had to accommodate all the dietary needs.
16 It Takes Two To Diaper
When I worked in the daycare center, we had cameras in every corner of the classroom. There were cameras near the diaper changing, stations, too, although they weren’t directly over the children. The idea was that the cameras gave parents a sense of security and could prove how the kids were being cared for. However, we still had to have multiple adults present for diaper changes in most cases. And even though one of the workers was a dad himself (his daughter attended the program), he wasn’t “allowed” to change diapers at all. While I can’t speak for all daycare programs, it seems to have become the norm for male caregivers to be banned from diaper changing and for facilities to require multiple “witnesses” for every change.
15 Ratios Running Low
Years ago, my mom ran an in-home daycare with multiple kids. Though things were different in the 90’s, as far as parenting and setting limits went, there were still some regulations she had to follow. But as I recall, she had a higher caregiver-child ratio than what’s approved these days. Ratios tend to vary a bit, but in general, the younger the children are, the more adults must be present to care for them. In the daycare I worked at, we couldn’t even run to use the restroom without ensuring appropriate staff in each classroom. However, this is one perk of daycares that follow the rules—parents can ensure their tots are getting enough attention!
14 Kids Can-Do
One of the things that I loved about the daycare I worked at was the fact that toddlers were treated like tiny grownups. Everything was their size—there were no high chairs or baby gates to contain them, either. They had tiny chairs and tiny tables, tiny toilets and child-sized sinks. When we set out meals, kids were invited to pour their own drinks at preschool age and up. One of the perks of today’s daycares, I think, is that we’re encouraging independence from a young age, while still making sure there are attentive caregivers there to give positive reinforcement.
13 Strict Security Measures
Another daycare rule that’s relatively recent is the need for parents to show a form of ID to pick their children up. Of course, it’s just getting parents used to the process since it’s required for many elementary school campuses, too. It’s one of those things that are inconvenient for parents, but at the same time, it could prevent your child from being abducted. At the very least, it prevents confusion over which parent belongs with which child, and ensures that the backup caregiver’s identity is verified if someone other than mom or dad has to do pick up.
12 Hands-Off Handling
It wasn’t that long ago when daycare providers were able to punish or discipline kids with physical force. Thankfully, most parents are becoming hip to other methods of discipline that don’t require spanking their children, and daycares have had to follow suit. Even if they did prefer to spank, parents can rest assured that daycare providers are not allowed to use corporal punishment. Instead, most daycare programs either use timeouts, another controversial discipline method in itself, or one-on-one time with kids to help them work through whatever’s bothering them. And at the tender daycare age, there’s often a lot going on developmentally that kids need help with!
11 Screens Aren’t Social Tools
When I was in preschool, there were no screens in my school at all. Of course, by the time I worked in a daycare less than ten years ago, there were TVs and computers for the kids. But at that point, there wasn’t a whole lot for young children to do on a computer, and the only TV programming we had was Dora. Today, however, every child has an iPad in his or her diaper bag, knows how to unlock their parents’ smartphones, and can operate a DVD player like nobody’s business. Therefore, recent daycare rules have been created to address the overdosing of screen time in tot care.
10 No Sleeping In Seats
I remember reading the heartbreaking headline about a baby who had passed away while napping in his infant car seat. Unfortunately, it’s a more common occurrence than parents like to admit. Why? Because it’s so convenient to leave the baby sleeping in his infant seat, setting the seat on the floor or on another surface (which is a no-no on its own) to continue an uninterrupted nap. But fortunately, parents and caregivers have recognized the dangers, and it’s becoming more common to have policies against infants sitting in their seats at all while at a childcare facility. After all, car seats are for the car only!
9 Trial Periods Are Perfunctory
When I inquired about enrolling my now-eight-year-old in daycare when he was a toddler, there was actually an interview process to get him enrolled. We needed to visit first, then fill out paperwork—which included questions about his developmental abilities, his habits and interests, and any allergies—and then start a trial period. Yes, some daycares have rules about enrolling kids, keeping an open trial period so that they can kick out kids that are deemed a problem. It’s new to many parents, but some programs want to ensure that your tot is a good fit before committing to provide long-term care.
8 Lockdowns Limit Visitors
Plenty of modern parents looking for daycare for their infants are met with a reluctance to let parents in the classroom. While it’s common in Montessori and Waldorf classrooms to make everything all about the kids, parents are often turned off by the inability to check in on their kids without pre-approval, if they’re allowed at all. Of course, part of this is due to security concerns, a growing issue in the United States in particular. Therefore, parents shouldn’t be surprised if a daycare requires them to be buzzed in, IDs checked, and even pass through a metal detector before picking up their child—in the hallway of course, and not the actual classroom.
7 Background Checks Before Checking In
Over the past decade, I’ve participated in a few field trips and events for my niece’s preschool and elementary school. One thing that didn’t necessarily surprise me but that was inconvenient was the fact that parents or other adults had to get fingerprinted and have a background check done in order to volunteer. And apparently, it’s common in daycare centers with younger children, too. Parents aren’t allowed around one another’s children, even going so far as to keep kids’ names anonymous on incident reports, such as if someone bites someone else. It’s apparently all about protecting the kids and their best interests, so I guess we can deal.
6 Verification And Vetting
Not too long ago, there wasn’t a uniform vetting process for caregivers of even very young children. Most states have their own rules, but recent reforms have meant further background checks, verification, and criminal vetting before people can be hired as daycare workers. This is definitely a positive for parents who send their infants and children to daycare, but it can also make finding good help harder because of the time it takes to get background checks and other paperwork completed. In my county, for example, it can take a couple of weeks to get fingerprinted and have paperwork processed. Still, it’s a positive security step that will help keep kids safer.
5 More Careful Cleaning
If you haven’t heard about the recent lawsuit surrounding the use of lawn chemicals at a school, it’s worth a Google. A maintenance man at a school campus developed cancer, apparently as a result of spraying weed-killers around the school. Thankfully, there are rules in place at most daycare facilities about the type of products that are allowed around children. Most are in regard to cleaning of items that infants usually mouth on, such as silicon or plastic toys. Most are sanitized every couple days, if not daily, in a bid to keep kids healthier while attending daycare.
4 No Sharing Allowed
This rule is another relatively new one, thanks in part to allergies and sensitivities kids have these days. Most daycare programs don’t provide diapers or wipes instead requiring parents to send their own. There’s also no sharing of sunscreens, diaper creams, and other items, because some children may be sensitive to said products. And if you haven’t seen photos of children’s reactions to some sunscreens, it’s worth considering what products are safest for your tot and how the daycare handles applying those and other topical ointments. Some babies even develop painful rashes from certain brands of diapers, making this no-sharing policy even more important.
3 Need A Degree To Diaper
In some areas, new regulations are emerging that are making daycare owners a bit irritated. In some places, daycare workers are now required to have a certificate or degree in early childhood education. For providers who have been in the childcare industry for decades but never got certified, this could mean a career change is on the horizon. It’s beneficial for families, however, because research shows that children taught by ECE professionals fare better in terms of development and later academics. But still, if your beloved babysitter suddenly has to quit, you might be at a loss to find a new daycare in your area.
2 Starting Training Sessions
Another new rule that’s recently emerged is the requirement for daycare workers to have specific training. One state is requiring specific daycare programs to enroll their caregivers in safe sleep, first aid, emergency preparedness, and shaken baby syndrome prevention trainings. Of course, it’s a welcome change for parents, who often have to have higher credentials and more in-depth training for careers like cosmetology or retail work. After all, our kids’ early development is a critical item on a childcare providers’ job description—there should be some accountability for proper training and safety measures. That said, some providers are reluctant to undergo training—but at some point, they likely won’t have a choice anymore.
1 Mandated Reporter Requirement
This rule is a very recent one—it was issued in early 2018 and makes childcare workers mandated reporters. While the distinction is now official, daycare providers have long been the first person to note when a child arrives with an unexplained bruise or other injuries. But now, daycare staff are mandated reporters who legally have to report any indication of harm of a child. Hopefully, this will mean fewer children fall through the cracks when it comes to abuse in the home. This, and other new daycare rules from the past ten years aim to improve the state of daycare for all little ones—something we can all get behind.