We all trust that when we are away from our children that they are in safe hands. But not every daycare center or at home daycare center is in compliance with set standards and your children could be in danger.
So who is regulating these daycare centers??? And how do you know if the person you want to take care of your child has the right qualifications? The Illinois Department of Children and Family services has almost 13,000 licensed daycare centers and in-home daycare facilities. A provider must meet some minimum requirements to operate a daycare. But as 23 News found out even those that are licensed can fool you.
Carrie Alita depended on one of her neighbors who was licensed by DCFS to care for her three children. She didn't ever think that her son would be injured. Just three months ago she dropped off her son Cole at the daycare and ended up taking him to the hospital. Carrie says Cole's arm was broke all afternoon and until she could pick him up at night.
Her daycare provider was allegedly charged with aggravated assault to a minor. Just last month Carrie and her son Jake who witnessed everything testified in court.
Another daycare provider, Jill Winterland didn't even get through the beginning stages of finding daycare for her son Orbi. Jill says at one center her son picked up staples, and during her interview with the provider she caught them lying.
She wasn't willing to take a risk so she opened up her own in-home daycare center. To meet DCFS minimum standards, 23 News found that a daycare provider needs to be certified in First Aid and CPR. Also they need to attend 15 hours of in-service training, be fingerprinted and go through a background check. Then your home has to pass an inspection.
But still some providers can slip through the cracks and others can put on a facade in front of parents. What else do you need to look out for as you put child in the hands of a stranger?
DCFS says the DCFS license should be visible. And while it's important there are other ways to weed out daycare providers. DCFS says you should check references.
This means do your homework and ask questions, sometimes more than once to check for consistency. Another suggestion, make an unannounced visit.
Finally, check for safety throughout the center. DCFS also says that parents need to take an active role. The only way DCFS will know if there is a problem with a provider is by complaints filled by parents.
DCFS has set up an information line that you can call to see if there have been any problems or call in's from parents about the daycare facility in the past. That number is, 877-746-0829. There is someone available Monday through Friday from the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.