Hire a Nanny or Enroll In Daycare? Part 1

Debating between sending your child to daycare or hiring a nanny? I have several years of experience on both sides. I can tell you the ins and outs of both. Today’s post will strictly be about daycare. Come back tomorrow for all the info on nannies!

While there are both licensed home based daycares and licensed daycare centers, my experience is strictly within licensed daycare centers. With daycare centers you have usually at least two caregivers caring for your children each day. They are also supervised by an assistant director and a director. Daycare centers are also regulated and inspected by each state. Children are typically kept in one room the majority of the day, each room designed around a specific age range. There is an outdoor play area that belongs to the center where the children are supposed to be taken to on a daily basis (weather and age permitting). Many (if not, all) daycares also take the children on walks within close proximity to the daycare. Sick children are not permitted in a daycare center. Typically children need to stay home (or are sent home) if they have fevers, bad colds, rashes, pink eye, strep throat, hand foot and mouth, diarrhea, vomiting, etc. Daycares close for all major holidays (some close for “smaller” holidays like Columbus day and Veterans day as well) and some close for training or inservice days as well. Not to mention snow days and other days where there is inclement weather.
Now, let’s get into personal experience (6+ years in daycares to be exact). First, not all daycares follow the rules mandated by the state. I can tell you that some (certainly not all) daycares don’t follow these rules 364 days out of the year and then the one day licensing comes in the gloves go on, things get a thorough cleaning and are rushed to be fixed, records are corrected (and sadly sometimes completely made up) and in some cases kids get switched around to keep the classrooms in ratio. So unfortunately, licensing results aren’t always an indicator of how a daycare is actually run. Also, parents have to take a lot of time off. Daycares are notorious for being full of germs. Even with daily cleaning, kids will still get sick. You can’t avoid it with so many kids in an enclosed space. Especially since kids are building their immune system so they are easily susceptible to illnesses. Before returning to daycare, children need to be symptom free for at least 24 hours. So once your child is better, they’ll need to spend an extra day at home to be completely cleared to return. If a child develops an illness during the day, parents are called and are expected to pick up their child ASAP.┬áDaycares are (and need to be) proactive when dealing with illnesses to prevent them from spreading.┬áSometimes in spite of best efforts, you can’t stop an illness. I’ve enjoyed the pleasure of catching one vicious stomach bug in particular, stealthily taking out one classroom at a time, teachers and kiddos alike. You could literally see it spreading through the center despite all the cleaning of the center and sending home of kids that we did.
Some daycare teachers aren’t good at what they do. Parents aren’t responsible for hiring, so you don’t get a choice in who works at the daycare your child goes to. Parents also don’t usually know the educational background of a daycare teacher unless they ask. There is also typically a high turnover rate of teachers within a daycare.
On the positive side, there is a lot of social interaction, teachers (at least in Maryland) have to be trained and take childcare classes throughout their time at a daycare. An abundance of toys, educational games, and art materials are available and shared between the classes.
Here’s where I’m going to be 100% honest with you. Personally, I will never send my child to daycare unless absolutely necessary. I have had horrible experiences related to the worst thing parents can imagine happening in a daycare – abuse. The first daycare I worked at, I left after almost 2 years because of it happening. [Yes, I did call the state and report the center. Not only did I do this for my own sanity but also because I am a mandated reporter.] Even after telling the assistant director and director, nothing was done. To give you an example of what was happening, a teacher broke a crib because she was slamming it against the wall so hard (with an infant in it). I also witnessed a different teacher carrying a 3 month old infant across the entire room holding onto just one of the infants hands, their body just dangling. Young infants were dropped from a foot or two above their cribs into them (keep in mind they were kept on the lowest setting). The worst was when I witnessed yet another teacher push a pacifier into a crying child’s mouth repeatedly and so hard that the child’s mouth bled. It was sickening to watch and once I realized the teachers weren’t being fired or even talked to, I put in my notice and left. Another center I worked at I left for similar reasons, though not as severe. That will have to be another post for another day!
Some centers have cameras, which is great for parents. The center I’m referencing above had them too. While parents were led to believe they recorded, they didn’t. So someone (assistant director or director) would have to be actively watching the camera feed in order to witness anything. A few centers with cameras actually put them live on the internet so that parents can log in with a username and password and see where their child is and what they’re doing. If I had absolutely no choice and my future child had to go to a daycare this would be the only center I’d let them in.
As I said, some people have amazing experiences at daycares and this post is certainly not meant to scare you out of putting your child in one. This is based on my personal experience working in them.
Check back tomorrow for the post about nannies!
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  1. These are exactly the reasons why I would never send Fynn to a daycare center. She’s in a home daycare, with one woman who I personally know and trust. I worked for 8 years at a school-aged care program, and was sickened by some of the things I saw, no way I would ever let my kid (especially as a baby!) go to a place like that.

    • Exactly. And many/most parents have no idea what’s going on. The daycare teachers can be so fake and act like they love that parent’s child so much. It’s just disgusting.

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