Sharyl Ritschel: Specialist urges care in choosing child-care provider

To the Editor:

The recent tragic death of the 3-month-old baby in an unlicensed family child-care home in Aurora has made many parents more aware of safety considerations in child care. Although having a license to operate a family child-care home may not have prevented this fatal fire, there are some steps that parents can take to make sure their children are safe while in child care, whether the parents choose unlicensed or licensed child care. Here are some things to look for and some questions you can ask to make sure your child is safe:

n Look for a smoke alarm. How many are there? Are they in working order? Are they placed on each level of the house where child care is provided?

n Ask whether the child-care provider has a fire extinguisher on the premises. Is it inspected regularly?

n Ask where the children nap. Does the provider check on the children periodically?

n Ask about emergency procedures. What would the provider do in case of fire? Are escape routes out of the facility posted? How often does the child-care provider practice emergency and fire drills? In high quality child care, drills are practiced monthly, so that the children and the provider accomplish emergency procedures automatically, without panic.

n Look for emergency numbers posted near the phone, including fire, police, poison control and parents' emergency numbers. Is the phone in working order?

n Ask whether the child-care provider has current training in first aid/CPR.

Additionally, parents should count the number of children in the facility each time they enter to make sure there are not too many children in the facility. If the program is licensed, the appropriate number of children should be posted where parents can see it. If the program is not licensed, think about how many children younger than 5 you could care for safely.

The ChildCare Network offers free information and resources to parents in Moffat County who are trying to find high quality child care for their children. For more information about child care and other programs for young children in Moffat County, call the Child Care Network at 879-7330.

Sharyl Ritschel,

Referral Specialist

Child Care Network

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