My husband and I both work full-time, so our daughter attends daycare. Our first daycare choice was not a good fit and we were faced with switching daycares a few months after we started. This article is about when to switch daycares for your child.
As first-time parents, we felt that we initially chose the right daycare for our daughter. We toured four different facilities, met directors, and read online reviews.
It felt like we were doing what we were supposed to do. When we chose my daughter’s first daycare, I felt relief from the search and I was excited about the prospects of this facility.
Initially, things went well but I started to notice odd things early on. As a first-time parent, I didn’t really know what I should be paying attention to or what counted as a red flag for a daycare facility.
I mean, should I really care that there’s a high turnover rate if my infant seems happy at drop-off and pick-up?
When I spoke to other people or posted on a parent discussion forum on What to Expect, my budding daycare concerns were pushed aside as first-time parent “overreactions.”
I’ve learned that if I ask ten different people about parenting advice, I’m going to get ten different answers that are on a spectrum of “yes that’s fine” or “no, that’s absolutely not okay.”
After a series of incidents at my daughter’s daycare, my husband and I decided to switch daycares.
If you’ve found yourself in a similar position, let’s dive into when to switch daycares for your child.
When to switch daycares
As first-time parents with no prior daycare experience, it’s difficult to know what should and should not be happening at daycare with your child. So, as hard as it may be, a lot of it is trusting your gut instincts as a parent.
There is no person that cares more for your child than you do. If you feel that your child is not getting proper care or something is wrong, honor and listen to those feelings.
I know that sometimes we don’t want to admit to ourselves that we made a wrong choice for our child. Once you put in so much effort to choose a daycare, it’s disheartening and discouraging to realize that it’s not a good fit.
Here are some red flags that facilitated the decision to switch daycare providers.
Daycare providers usually provide incident reports for anything that happens during your child’s day that is out of the ordinary. For the infant rooms, or children under two years old, this can include things like altercations with other children, falls, bruises, and the like.
My daughter attended her first daycare from three to six months old. During this time, there were about five to six incident reports. As a first-time parent, this was shocking to me and I had no experience to gauge whether this was normal or not.
The reports ranged from other kids biting or scratching my daughter to weird things like a bee sting. I was pretty upset with the bites and scratches because my daughter was only five months old at the time. But the bee sting was one of the last straws.
Generally, I felt that the providers were not watching her closely enough, especially for an infant that was not yet mobile.
Response to your concerns
You can tell a lot about a daycare facility and its staff from their responsiveness to your concerns.
Initially, when I brought up concerns to the director about my daughter’s care, she was responsive and told me the issues would be addressed. She was very reassuring, which led us to stay at the daycare longer.
When the incident reports kept coming, I realized that little to no changes were being made. To me, it felt that the director had no control over the goings-on of the facility.
The director seemed exasperated and defeated all the time. I was left wondering what was really happening at the facility.
Teacher turnover rate
I started to notice that the teacher turnover rate was high for the infant room. Not only that, the regular teachers were constantly absent, so there were a lot of substitute care providers.
The substitute care providers were never the same. At some point, I just stopped asking the provider’s name because there was a good chance I wouldn’t see that person again. I know, that’s bad.
With a high turnover rate, it’s difficult for infants to create a bond with their caregivers. Infants and toddlers need routine and consistency, and this is hard to establish when there is a high turnover rate of caregivers.
I had to ask myself why all the teachers were leaving. Were they not getting paid enough? Was the environment so bad that it was affecting the teachers as well? What was really going on when I was not there?
Business practices and values
There’s a difference when a daycare views your child as a tuition check versus wanting to nurture and love your child. This may seem like an extreme comparison but the difference is easy to spot.
How does the director operate the facility? Do the caregivers seem interested in nurturing and teaching little ones? What is the general vibe of the facility? What is the relationship between the director and the caregivers? Has the daycare been operating for less than five years?
As a parent, it’s my duty to be observant of my daughter’s surroundings and to ask questions. Even though I don’t know much about how a business should run, my gut was telling me that something was off.
So, the daycare facility was less than five years old as a business and the infant room was recently established within the past year. Looking back, this should have been a red flag for us but it wasn’t.
On the outside, I liked that the facility was brand new and the toys and infant area were new and shiny. The director flaunted her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and Development, so that was also appealing to us.
It just looked good, and that’s why we chose the facility. I have since learned that the business side of running a daycare is pretty important and it certainly helps to run a smooth daycare operation.
We experienced that daycare facility with less than five years of practice and our current facility with almost 30 years of business practice. The difference between the two is night and day.
It’s very possible that a brand new daycare facility can have what it takes to be successful and do well. Unfortunately, that wasn’t our experience.
Parent intuition on when to switch daycares
Parent intuition and gut feelings are so important. We can ask for advice all day long and not get the answers we are truly seeking. It’s because they come from within.
What really matters is how you are feeling as a parent, not your mom or your coworker who thinks you might be overreacting as a first-time parent.
They don’t have to deal with the anxiety or dread of picking up your child from daycare and wondering what incident report you might receive next or what is going to happen.
They’re not the ones crying on the drive home because you know deep down inside that this daycare isn’t working out for your family.
Ultimately, I couldn’t move forward with the facility. Although my daughter attended that facility for three short months, those three months felt like a year.
When we made the decision to switch daycares, we sprung into action and took all the necessary steps to change facilities.
- Further reading: How to change daycare providers for your child
Final thoughts on when to change daycares
The decision of when to switch daycares will be very emotionally driven, at least it was for me. It’s because I absolutely care and want the best for my daughter. I mean, don’t we all?
Switching daycares turned out to be one of the best decisions we ever made for our family. I didn’t know that it was possible to be happy with a daycare facility.
I mean, I had read about it but didn’t know that it was actually true. We are so happy with our current facility, the director, and the teachers.
If you’re thinking about when to switch daycares or maybe you’re at the final straw, I hope this article helps and illuminates the decision-making process for you.