Making the switch is a hard decision with many factors to consider
Every parent wants their child to be well taken care of when they are not with them.
We may utilize the help of family members, friends, a nanny, send them to a group childcare facility, or do a combination.
But what happens when you send your child to a group childcare facility and you feel like something isn’t right? You are paying a lot of money and are concerned if it’s worth it?
Should you switch?
When should you switch?
Deciding to switch childcare facilities requires a lot of decision-making. You may have gotten used the routine or your child has and you’re wondering if it’s worth it to search and switch.
Many families do not have this option as they only have the one option they are using.
The waitlist for the school we are now in is now over a year, which is an issue in itself.
I often get asked this in my office. It’s usually a parent of a child who is sick all the time. As a Pediatrician and mom, I know that kids get sick “a lot” when they first start group childcare. The first 1-1.5 years is the hardest as their body gets used to all the seasonal viruses we commonly see.
I also know that in the pandemic when mask mandates were lifted and the country opened up in March of 2021, we have seen more common childhood illnesses than we have ever before. I explain more about why this is happening and when to be concerned about repetitive illness in this podcast episode.
But, it’s not unheard of for a parent to wonder if the childcare facility may play a role in the repetitive illnesses.
But, this is where you have to really look at the big picture.
I also know how hard it is to run a childcare facility in this country and take care of a group of active toddlers or younger.
Ryaan was at a group childcare facility from January 2021-June 2022. From January 2021 to March 2021, we really loved it. It was in the pandemic and the class sizes were small, he wasn’t sick once and he really enjoyed it. The commute was far and this was because no schools in our area were allowing children under two to register (and he was only 13 months). So, we did the 45-minute commute roundtrip so he could play with friends in a safe school.
Besides the commute, we really loved it. Once adults received the vaccine, mask mandates changed, and the country opened up more; him and all his peers began falling sick with common childhood viruses. This began in spring of 2021. I thought this to be normal and didn’t think much of it. Kids in group childcare get sick.
From March 2021-October 2021, Ryaan was on and off sick quite a bit. It coincided to what I was seeing in my office too so I knew we weren’t alone. But, it was taking a toll on our jobs as we had no backup childcare of family and suffered with unpaid time from work.
As he was approaching two, we started touring local schools to get on waitlists because of the commute.
We toured schools nearby and fell in love with one. Only catch was he wouldn’t be able to start until summer of 2022 because of his December birthday (they have a September birthday cutoff). Also, they only had waitlist spots available so we were placed on a waitlist.
During the fall, Ryaan wasn’t sick as much, so we continued on with our childcare facility. When he was sick often, we thought about pulling him out and hiring a nanny because I was missing work, but we couldn’t find a full-time nanny. We also, did like the socialization for him.
But his old school was experiencing a lot of staff turnover which concerned me that perhaps working conditions weren’t good, they weren’t happy, or weren’t well compensated for the region.
They increased the class size and there were 16 children in a very small and poorly ventilated room, so the children were constantly getting sick which got really worse January 2022 to April 2022. It was to the point where he was sick every week for a month.
At pick-up, he would have dirty pull-ups and diaper rashes and there was poor communication on how he did during the day. The dirty pull-up and diaper rash was concerning to me as he’s a toddler and has better control over his bowels, so I know he was sitting in that for a while causing him to get the rash.
He would consistently come home in other children’s shoes and clothes when everything was nicely labeled.
I knew the school was going through growing pains; but it was costing us money, time, and a lot of illness.
By March of 2022, I reached out to the school we toured and found out that he was taken off the waitlist and could start in June 2022. They had emailed me, but it went to spam! (pro tip: always check spam and always follow up!)
He has been at his new school now for seven weeks and we are all happier.
- It’s so much closer for us.
- Ryaan loves his new school and wakes up screaming the school’s name every day in excitement.
- They are very organized with drop-off and pick-ups and returning items. (yes, mistakes happen with clothes being mixed up but this is not the norm).
- They are great at communicating concerns: they write a note the day of the concern rather than waiting until later. I write notes back to them with suggestions. Example: Ryaan wasn’t napping so I gave tips to encourage it knowing his temperament and it helped.
- He has meals and snacks included in the tuition, which has been helpful for me in the mornings. (Interestingly, the cost is the SAME as his old school; yet this school has meals included).
- He hasn’t been sick (I know this is likely also due to seasonality of the switch in June and the fact that he has been exposed to a lot of viruses in one year). But, it’s way better and has allowed some stability in our lives. Illness will STILL happen in facilities when kids are together.
- The facility is larger and more spread out with better ventilated spaces.
Deciding to switch will never be ONE reason. Even when I have kids coming in to my office repetitively for illnesses, we do discuss the environment. Many times, parents bring up red flags from the childcare facility (high staff-turnover is a huge red flag that is often brought up to me) that is concerning them to switch.
We decided to make the switch because of the distance of the school combined with the hygiene concerns and high staff turnover and concerns for organization.
It wasn’t one reason—but a big picture for us.
Many of you reading this may be wanting to switch childcare because your child is sick often.
I would ask that you look at other factors like I mentioned above or wrote in this blog.
Children will get sick when they are with other children, but if your gut is telling you something isn’t right AND you have other childcare options; do the switch.
I give a lot of love to all those who run childcare facilities and work in them for taking care of our kiddos. As a Pediatrician, I know how hard it must be to take care of many children in a group facility.