The easiest way to screen day care providers is through an internet search using the facility name. While this search might reveal major news stories involving the day care, it will not give you a full understanding of the daily operations of the day care facility. Furthermore, many businesses now unitize “reputation management” firms which can help manipulate search engine results and bury bad publicity.
Another common approach is to look for customer reviews online. There are many free services which offer access to customer reviews such as Google reviews, Yelp.com, Yellowpages.com, Greatschools.org, and Facebook.com. While such reviews can be helpful, some of these services may allow the day care an opportunity to respond, or allow them to remove negative reviews. Be sure to stay away from reviews which are actually paid advertisements.
The best way to screen a potential day care provider is to check with the state agency that is responsible for inspecting and licensing such care providers. Such agencies, or an affiliate, will often perform unannounced inspections at the day care facility to insure that it is in compliance with various state regulations. In many states parents can directly access inspection reports to determine if the day care provider is in compliance with state regulations. For example, in Pennsylvania parents can go to https://www.compass.state.pa.us/Compass.Web/ProviderSearch/Home#/BasicSearch to review inspection reports.
Another great way to screen your potential day care provider is to go onsite and ask questions to staff and other parents. Determine if the day care provider has First Aid and CPR certified staff on the floor at all times. Don’t just make sure the day care operator does background checks on employees, ask for a list of the names of all employees and do your own background check. While the day care provider might be comfortable employing someone with a criminal history as long as it does not relate to child abuse, you may not. In many states you can do a free criminal background check on someone. For example, in Pennsylvania you can search individuals’ criminal records at https://ujsportal.pacourts.us/DocketSheets/MDJ.aspx. Also, ask for information related to staff experience, student-staff ratios, supervision policies and procedures, and insurance.
In the unfortunate event that your child has suffered sexual abuse or serious injury at a day care facility, you should strongly consider reporting the incident to the criminal authorities and the state agency which regulates the day care provider. If you are interested in holding the day care provider accountable for their mistakes and want to prevent a similar tragic situation from happening again in the future you might consider civil litigation. At Andreozzi + Foote we have provided guidance to families who have suffered through tragic experiences at day care and we have taken on some of the most recognized day care providers when they fail to protect children. We are available to discuss your options at no charge 1-800-724-5785.