Your Daycare Might Be Toxic
It’s so common to hear about the desperate search for daycare in Toronto that we often forget that finding a daycare spot can only be the beginning of the trouble. We hear so little about issues with licensed child care because the stories about the failures of unlicensed centres are often epic and tragic. But having a child in a licensed care centre doesn’t necessarily mean that everything will be perfect, or that their basic emotional or physical needs will be met.
Daycare in Toronto is not unlike the housing market: everyone wants in but lots of people can’t afford something good, or they find that nothing decent exists in their neighbourhood. Sometimes people settle for something that needs a bit of work. We are told repeatedly by Toronto media that we are lucky to find a daycare spot at all and are constantly reminded that there is a line-up out the door behind us. This does not make for a healthy and accountable system.
There is good news: with all-day kindergarten spreading across the province, more toddler and preschool spots are opening up. (The introduction of full day kindergarten is not without its headaches.) But for parents seeking preschool daycare right now it means that instead of feeling stuck with whatever we can get, we can start to expect more from what we have — because we actually have options.
So what are the red flags to look for? How can you tell if your daycare is a good place or a bad place for your child?
- Are your concerns respected and heard? If the answer is no, there’s a problem.
- Are the staff friendly and warm? Do they greet you and your child when you arrive?
- Do you feel comfortable asking management and staff questions about your child’s care? Do they get defensive?
- Does the space look clean or is it in need of repair and care?
- Most importantly: Does your child look forward to being there and are they emotionally connected to the staff?
Remember: check the City of Toronto website to find out how your centre is scoring within their ratings system — and don’t hesitate to call and ask for more information.
Your child’s behavior will be your best indicator of whether or not their needs are being met. If you have a doubt in your mind you should listen to yourself. Talk to your child’s teacher, other parents and the management at your daycare. No concern is insignificant when it comes to children. You know your child better than anyone; don’t let anybody tell you differently.