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Child Care: Preventing Problems and Watching for Abusive Providers

How can I help prevent problems?

Most child care providers are loving, trustworthy people. There are a few, however, who are unfit to care for children. To help prevent problems and make sure that children are safe:

  • Find out who will be watching your child if the caregiver must be away.
  • Make unannounced visits.
  • Get to know other parents who have children enrolled.
  • Make sure that the facility is licensed by the department of social services, human services, or health. (This does not guarantee a safe environment.)
  • Check whether the home or center has had complaints.
  • Always check your caregiver's references.

If you suspect a problem, report your suspicions to your local department of social or human services (protective services division or child protection team). You may remain anonymous or ask that your name not be mentioned.

What are the warning signs?

You may not always be able to detect potential problems before enrolling your child. Do not jump to conclusions, but do pay attention to your child and look into possible reasons for your child's troubling behavior. Watch for:

  • Sudden dislike of or not wanting to go to caregiver.
  • Being unusually interested in things of a sexual nature, acting sexual, or drawing sexual themes.
  • Suddenly not wanting to show or receive affection.
  • Sudden sleep problems (nightmares, fear of dark or being alone).
  • Acting much younger than their age (bedwetting, thumbsucking, clinginess).
  • Unusually nervous or aggressive behavior.
  • Caregiver or center does not welcome your unannounced visits.
  • Caregiver or center does not willingly provide the names and numbers of other parents who have children enrolled.
  • Bruises, swollen areas, cuts, or other marks.
  • Injuries that the child or caregiver cannot explain.
  • Anything your child says about physically or sexually abusive or inappropriate behavior.
Written by Donna Warner Manczak, PhD, MPH.
Published by McKesson Provider Technologies.
Last modified: 2006-10-05
Last reviewed: 2004-03-01
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright 2006 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved.
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