Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Daycare: Wombat seeks adventure! Part 2

The first daycare we visited was Childtime in Gaithersburg. We saw the place on Friday afternoon, on Memorial Day weekend. So any negatives we found would have to be offset by it being a really busy holiday time for the teachers.

Childtime is a corporation that own lots and lots of daycare centers across the country. They are not franchised, and so each center has to answer to a higher authority. They do not follow a particular teaching method as such.

The Gaithersburg facility is large, with good indoor and outdoor spaces; all areas were clean and well organized. The door to the facility is always locked, and access is given when you buzz in (although the administrator just buzzes everyone in automatically without asking who they are).

Touring the daycare left us with mixed feelings. On one hand, the administrator was nice, ready to answer most questions and helpful; classical music was piped throughout the facility; everything appeared very sanitary. On another hand, the administrator seemed unable to answer some pretty basic questions, couldn't describe in detail their teachers' qualifications, and was giving instructions to the teachers off the cuff.

In the positive experiences, the administrator mentioned that there is very low turnover of teachers (the longest teachers have been there is over 8 years; the youngest teacher has been there 2 years). The facility looked well maintained, and the security is well taken care of. All children, even infants, get to play outside (infants are taken around in buggies to enjoy the outdoors).

In the negatives, the administrator could not answer what vaccinations are required from the kids, and could not explain what qualifications the staff are required to have. She stated that the staff must have a 90-hour certification, but could not explain what the certification was or what body had granted it. During our tour of the facility, we saw a few somewhat unpleasant things as well. In the infant room, one of the babies was crying for a while with no one paying attention to him. The infant room had no colorful objects or walls in it; everything seemed to be white or beige. Most infants were laying in their cribs, with just 2 being held by 2 teachers in the room; one of the two was being fed. In the toddler room, one of the kids was sitting by himself with snot dripping out of his nose with no one, again, paying any attention to him. Both of these kids were picked up/attended to by the administrator when we happened to stop by; it was not clear if she was qualified or supposed to handle the kids. The administrator also was giving instructions in each room as to what teachers should take which kids where; nothing was written down or organized and it looked like confusion could very easily set in.

The teachers looked stressed and tired. The teachers in the toddler rooms looked overwhelmed by the kids in the room. After the child is potty trained, the child/teacher ratio goes to 10:1, which must be very taxing on the teacher.

Many of these things could be explained by it being late on a Friday afternoon before a holiday, so may be it's much better on other days. And, again, this is the first place we've seen. But having seen the daycare like this, it seemed somewhat depressing.

Overall, it was not bad. We are just hoping to find better.

Quick Stats:
Rates (infants): $365/week
Waitlist: about 6 months; the facility will call you on the month you want to place the child if the space is available.

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