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May 14, 2018 10:17 PM

Avoiding Daycare Dangers

It's one of the worst fears of a working parent. You trust your child with a daycare provider, only to find out that your child is being mistreated. 

Three women are accused of abusing kids at two different day cares in Sioux Falls. 

Here's a look into the regulations daycares face and what you can do to make sure your children are safe.

It's exercise time. Activities, like this, are one reason Emily Pogue decided Apple Tree East is the right place for her three year old.

"My child really likes going here, and he's excited," Pogue said.

It wasn't an easy decision. Pogue first took her son, Keaton, to two other daycares. She wasn't happy with either of them. With the first one, she said there was a lack of communication.

"With an infant, you want to know what's going on during the day and be able to contact them in emergencies. With the second one, there were things we could see that weren't good," Pogue said.

Pogue is glad she trusted her gut, especially following recent news. Two former workers at Little Blessings Learning Center are accused of physically abusing children during nap time. Court papers say surveillance video shows the two slamming children on their mats, yanking their heads, arms and feet, and dragging them across the room.

A different daycare worker at the Boys and Girls Club on Sneve Avenue is also accused of dragging kids around by their arms. 

"As a parent who chooses to work outside of the home, that's the most stressful part of having children. It's not going back to work in the sense that you're going to feel overwhelmed with work. It's finding the care for your child because that's your duty," Pogue said.

What are the rules daycares should follow to make sure they're hiring the right employees? All centers in South Dakota with more than 12 kids need to be licensed with the state. Daycares with less than a dozen kids can also choose to do so.

"In order to be state licensed, there's a pretty stringent list of requirements. Of course they fill out an application. They have to have an inspection. They need to provide a floor plan and a menu," Childcare Helpline Specialist Krista Wisener said.

State-licensed child care centers also need to fingerprint potential employees and send that information to the FBI and DCI. They also screen for reports of abuse and neglect and check an applicant's criminal background.

"They are ultimately the person who is caring for your child, so you need to make sure you have that communication with the provider, and you feel comfortable with them," Apple Tree East Director Lisa Carson said.

"One of the biggest things is drop in unannounced. Once you've established a relationship with the provider, it should be perfectly ok to stop in and see how things are going," Wisener said.

If a daycare doesn't have a state license and is within Sioux Falls city limits, it must be registered with the city. It's not a bad idea to make sure your daycare is following the rules.

"For the city they do undergo an inspection, and have to have liability insurance and be CPR and first aid trained. It's a really great thing within the city of Sioux Falls that that's a requirement," Wisener said.

In addition to checking licenses and registrations, new employees at Apple Tree East go through four hours of training. The director also keeps an eye on every classroom with cameras. 

"We provide incident reports, even small ones. If they trip and fall and scrape their knee, that's reported. If it's something major, like they get a bump on their head, then we do give them a call," Carson said.

Communication that Pogue appreciates.

"We have this trust in them that if anything happens, we'll be the first to know about it," Pogue said.

Because for many parents, day care workers have the most important jobs in the world, taking care of your precious loved ones.

"As a parent, you just want your child to grow up as a good human," Pogue said.


The Helpline Center does have tools to help parents looking for child care. 
That includes a list of things you should ask potential providers and a database of daycares in Minnehaha, Lincoln, Turner, and McCook counties. 
We've posted a link here.


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