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Daycare vs. Babysitter – Is There a Right Choice?

So I am about to do something I never ever thought that I would do…Hire a babysitter to watch # 3 in my house – Gasp! I am a big, big proponent of daycare and I am famous for standing on my soap box and telling anyone who will listen why to choose day care over a babysitter. And here I am seriously considering a sitter. So let me tell you why I’m torn. For my 1st child I absolutely was sending her to daycare. In a nutshell I prefer it. Let me say generally when I say day care I am referring to one that you have thoroughly researched and are sure it is licensed and has no violations against it and one that is NOT in someone’s house.

I can honestly go on and on about daycare but I don’t have the space here so I’ll put my top two reasons.

  1. Socializationthe socialization children receive in a daycare setting is priceless. Your child will learn how to share, play with other children and wait their turn and wash their hands and eat together at a table and …the learning is endless.
  2. Accountabilitychances are your child will never be alone with an adult in day care, it’s pretty difficulty, most daycares have open bathrooms for the little ones (no doors) so there’s no privacy. In all the years I have been a prosecutor in child abuse and sex crimes I have handled thousands of cases, I personally have never had a physical or sexual abuse case where the child was victimized at day care. My office has handled a handful of physical abuse case against a daycare worker but that is the exception not to rule. However, and this is huge, in most of my cases (when I say most I mean 100%)… where there is an allegation of sexual or physical abuse of a child the accused is a family member or a close friend. The accused is NOT a stranger. Unless you have a nanny cam there is no accountability for your sitter.

It is a huge step to trust someone with your child especially your first because chances are you have never seen the sitter take care of a child before. So you may ask why would I go against my own advice now and choose a sitter for #3? Convenience, that’s why. I am all ready to go back to work (not really but I must) and I have no child care lined up for #3. I was considering a few daycares and discussing this dilemma with my cleaning lady/ occasional babysitter/friend when she said “I’ll watch the baby!” WOO HOO really I thought? I love, love, LOVE this woman and so do my kids. I never even thought about having a babysitter until she suggested it. And you know what she said to me? “You can’t send #3 to daycare, you need someone here to clean up for you and to cook dinner for you!” REALLY? Yes I do actually. I really trust this woman and I have seen her with my kids. I have been to her house and know her family. Sometimes she even stops by unexpectedly on a Saturday and plays with my kids.

Returning to work with 3 kids will be a lot. And the less I have to do when I get home the easier my life is. My job is tremendously stressful and I don’t want to worry about all the extras when I get home from work. I want to come home and play with the kids and hear all that I missed while I was at work. All of my worries went out the window with a 3 minute conversation with a friend. I know my kids will be safe and happy with the sitter … still, that’s not to say there won’t be a camera in this house.

Ray Ray’s Story: A Call to Action for Parents and Caregivers

Our Story

On May 25th 2011 our lives changed forever. Though we awakened a little late, the day started as usual: we played for an hour with our daughter (she was a morning person) before getting her dressed for daycare. It was tropical day: the children were to wear “tropical” attire. We dressed Ray Ray in a cute little flowered dress and she smiled back as if she knew she looked so adorable. We carried Ray Ray to the car and placed her in her car-seat. We kissed her and told her we loved her as we buckled her in her seat, and she waved the most mysterious goodbye to us: a wave we had never seen before and one we would never forget. It was the last goodbye we would ever have from our little angel.

Brett drove away in his truck with Ray Ray tucked securely in her carseat. She dozed off into sleep, probably tired from playing all morning with us. Then our perpetual nightmare began: for reasons we do not know or understand, Brett drove past the turn that he would normally take to drop Ray Ray off at daycare. A simple left hand turn, beyond which daycare is only about 300 yards away. He turned right instead. Why? This is a question that will haunt us forever. Brett continued his drive to work, assuming that our daughter was safely in the hands of her daycare teachers and enjoying tropical day. We carried on with our regular work routine.

A few hours later we met at Brett’s office for a lunch date before I went out of town for a business event. As we drove to lunch, we talked in the car about Ray Ray and how pretty she looked for Tropical day. Suddenly, Brett’s heart skipped two beats and his mind raced chaotically as he tried to understand why he could not remember seeing the reaction from her loving teachers about her cute little Tropical day dress. Reality hit. Brett’s heart sunk to the bottom of his chest: he couldn’t remember dropping Ray Ray off at daycare that morning! He screamed out loud for me to get us back to his office as fast as possible.

We raced through traffic lights, stop signs, one-way streets, and arrived at Brett’s office in record time. We called the office manager as we drove, instructing her to check the truck. As Brett was awaiting a response from the office manager I called the daycare. When the teacher confirmed she was not there, I hung up and immediately called 911. Simultaneously the office called 911 as well. The nightmare had happened. Ray Ray had been forgotten in the truck for nearly three hours in 90 degree heat.

The office manager took Ray Ray out of the truck, ran cool water over her body, and began rescue efforts—she was still alive, making gurgling sounds and having difficulty breathing. I continued aggressive attempts at resuscitation once we arrived while the office staff stayed on the line with 911. Our last visions of our living daughter were of her lying on the floor as she lost consciousness and CPR was being performed. She gazed into mommy and daddy’s eyes one last time. That will haunt us forever. One hour and 19 minutes after this nightmare began she was pronounced dead.

We have asked ourselves thousands of times how could this happen. Where did we go wrong? How could either of us ever possibly forget our most precious gift? How can we ever move forward? How can we ever live after this? Can we ever forgive ourselves?

We searched for answers and to our shock we found that we were not alone. Data derived from media reports of child hot car deaths from 1998 through 2010 suggest that, in 51% of cases, these children were “forgotten” by their guardian. Forty-four percent of these “forgotten” children were supposed to have been dropped off at daycare/ pre-school on the morning of their tragedy. That’s more than 1 in every 5 child deaths due to vehicular heatstroke!

Ray Ray’s Call to Action

Ray Ray’s Pledge aims to prevent the more than 1 in every 5 child hot car deaths due to heatstroke that occur because the child was not dropped off at daycare in the morning and his/her whereabouts went unquestioned. It takes a village to raise a child, and good communication in this village is key to prevention of tragedy. Ray Ray’s Pledge is designed to create a safety net surrounding a child’s morning drop-off time at daycare—a time when parents may be vulnerable to human error, as history has proven from our story as well as the stories of more than 100 other known families who also never imagined that this could happen to them.

This CAN happen to YOU!  Please don’t be the next victim! By signing the pledge, you are committing to keeping your child’s teacher informed of any planned changes in morning drop off. In exchange, your child’s teacher is committing to you that he/she will act as your guardian angel by calling you if your child does not arrive on time and a planned tardiness/absence has not already been communicated. The first and most important step relies on YOU: please communicate planned absences to the teachers so that they can provide an effective safety net to your family when one is needed. DO NOT allow yourselves to become a statistic! MAKE THE PLEDGE, and take it seriously. The risk of heatstroke is too often an unheeded risk to child safety, one that we learned of after it was too late.