A mom named Laurel Niedospial wrote an honest, candid post for PopSugar Moms about how she was so afraid of what could happen at daycare, she wound up quitting her job as a teacher to stay at home with her son.
“Tragedies at daycare centers are seemingly all too common,” she wrote, linking to a heartbreaking 2016 story about a baby who died on her first day of daycare. “Doctors, family and friends expressed concern at the thought of leaving our son at a daycare. When we told one of my aunts who works in early childhood education that we weren’t considering daycare, she exclaimed, ‘Good! If you can avoid it, don’t do it.'”
What the what? Why are doctors, family, friends and early childhood pros dissing daycare?
Yes, it’s a terrible fact that children die at the hands of caregivers, but the truth is, experts deem regulated, center-based daycares to be very safe. ChildWelfare.gov‘s Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities Report from 2014, found that parents were responsible for 79 percent of child
abuse or neglect fatalities, whereas non-parents (like other relatives and child care providers) were responsible for less than 16 percent. And in a study of 13,000 children, less than half a percent reported abuse from an adult at an organization, like daycare teachers, in a given year, whereas 6 percent reported abuse from a family member. Finally, according to a study that appeared in the American Sociological Review in 2005, infants are seven times more likely to die in their own home with a nanny or at an in-home daycare than in a center-based daycare.
When I was pregnant, my mom was my first choice to watch my son, because I believed she would love and care for him better than some person with no familial connection to him. But that wasn’t feasible for her, a working grandma, even if we paid her what we’d pay a daycare. Luckily, I found a center that was a good fit for our family. I soon learned that the wonderful teachers at Jeremy’s daycare do care deeply about his safety and well-being. They’re moms, themselves. Plus, their livelihood depends on the quality of the care.
Accidents happen, of course. Jeremy has come home with bumps, bruises, even bite marks! But he’s slipped, tripped and fallen in my house too. Accidents happen everywhere, and regulated daycares are designed to minimize those. We all childproof our homes to the best of our abilities. Unless you’re hiring a pro to do it or check on it, though, it’s possible we’ve missed something.
Plus, sending your child to regulated daycare doesn’t seem different than sending your child to school as a kindergartener, except you aren’t likely to get to pick that teacher. You may not even get to choose the school. True, your child is bigger and less helpless by the time they go to kindergarten, but when you’re paying for care, you have say over the kind of care your child gets.
I’m sad that Laurel’s doctors, family and friends reinforced her fear instead of allaying it. That’s not what a supportive network does. I’m also sad that she’s worried she’ll have a hard time getting a job when she’s ready to return to work.
Laurel recognized the privilege she has to be able to leave her job to care for her child. We all have to make decisions that we think are best for our families. Being consumed with fear each day is no way to live as a parent, or a person in general. “I decided that it was better to sacrifice my career than to live in fear of what could be,” she wrote. I hope she still feels that way in the future.