Jason and Rebecca Vannest immediately removed their 2-year-old son from daycare in Davison, Michigan, when an employee at the center shared a troubling photo of the boy napping.
The parents say they were comfortable with their decision to place William at Rainbow Child Care Center for the past year… until the employee contacted them unexpectedly. The woman informed the Vannests that their little boy was being physically bound to force him to nap, and she provided photographic evidence.
“It’s our worst nightmare that something is happening to them when they’re in the care of someone else,” Jason told WNEM-TV5. The Vannests immediately removed William from the daycare center and contacted the police and the state. The childcare employee who bound William is reportedly still working at Rainbow, and according to reports, the county prosecutor isn’t moving forward with this case, which leaves the Vannests and others questioning why, as they believe it’s a clear case of child abuse.
When it comes to swaddling children, in 2011, the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Public Health Association jointly (and strongly) recommended that childcare facilities refrain from swaddling children of any age. Swaddling is considered safe for newborns, but it is not generally recommended for babies over the age of 2 months.
The Vannests did plenty of research before placing William at Rainbow. “Even before I was pregnant, I actually put together an Excel list,” Rebecca told WNEM. “I was going through different daycares, and calling and visiting, just trying to find somewhere where we felt comfortable.”
Despite their due diligence, however, Jason and Rebecca still found themselves in a worst-case scenario. So what are working parents to do? While there is no way to guarantee that something like this won’t happen, there are definitely steps parents can take.
For example, after researching area facilities and gathering referrals from other parents to select the right childcare provider, it’s important to continue observing and evaluating your child’s care on a regular basis, no matter how comfortable you feel. From conversations with other parents to random drop-ins at various times of the day, parents can try to get as much insight into what’s happening with their children as possible and monitor important issues, including the following.
The staff. How long have workers been there and what is the average turnover rate? Is the staff attentive, caring and patient? What is the ratio of children to employees? (Individual states have their own ratios, but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends one adult for every three babies up to age 2.)
The environment. Are windows and doors safe? Are small toys and other choking hazards out of reach of smaller children? What is the facility’s fire safety plan? Do strangers have access to the buildings or grounds? Are sleeping, playing, food prep and diaper-changing areas clean?
The policies. What are the daily routines of the various age groups? Ask specific questions about meals, naps and rules about sick kids.
The children. Do they appear happy? Clean? Are there other children near your child’s age?
There are many wonderful childcare providers out there, but it’s stories like this that remind us we can never be too careful, never ask too many questions and never be too concerned about what’s happening with our children when they’re in someone else’s care.