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4.0 out of 5 stars A Home Child Care Experts Review for "Doing Time", April 17, 2012
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This review is from: Doing Time: What It Really Means To Grow Up In Daycare (Kindle Edition)
My review on "Doing Time"

First, it's an easy read. It just takes a few hours to read but it's packed with some very interesting first hand accounts of life as a center staff assistant spanning a number of years with experience primarily in infant care but also in two to four year old care. She comes to the table with the academic creds and experience to have an opinion worth considering.

I've never worked in a center. My only experience with centers has been nearly a year of watching multiple cameras for two centers to supervise staff and as a health and safety consultant for both centers. The kind of experiences she wrote about are exactly what I watched in the infant and toddler rooms. I could easily relate to her analysis of "one of many" care as I had watched this unfold day after day in my consulting job.

The first thing I was digging was that she defined "teacher" and "school" and used this throughout the book. She made many references to the misconception that center care is school and the staff assistants are being called teachers. I wish she would have gone even further and advised that State's and regulating agencies REQUIRE centers to STOP using these words and to fully disclose what staff workers are indeed licensed teachers and which ones are not. They should also require some academic criteria with performance/testing statistics if they are going to refer to themselves as a school. In my state you can call yourself a preschool and BAM you are a preschool.

She talked about ratios and did a very nice comparison between states. She also explained how center workers turn over rate is extremely high and how between the different shifts of workers, a child can have multiple unskilled workers over a single day, week, months, and years. She described the staff assistants taken off the street and put into the most demanding areas of the center with absolutely no fundamental knowledge whatsoever of caring for infants.

I really liked how she was able to break down the "direct care" of the children into understandable parts to show parents what it actually takes to have multiple like aged children in one room with few adults. She hit the biggies which are feeding, sanitizing, diapering, outdoor (getting them ready, what is done with them outside, and them unloading them back into the building and rooms), and napping. She drew a pretty specific picture of how it is done and the "cheats" built into the system to make it easier for the adult and how these ultimately affect the kids.

I learned a lot about biting reading this. I don't have that in my child care at all so my experience is only with prevention of biting not the full cycle of biting. She broke down the developmental stage meets center life pretty darn well.

She devoted quite a bit of time on illness in child care and how it is allowed, spread, and even mentioned the "Tylenol" disguise (also known in child care as "The Dope And Drop"). She did not, however, get as specific as she should have with explaining to parents that their baby/child has a very very high likelihood of sharing a worker, toys, and equipment with children who are knowingly sent to child care sick. She did not talk about parents getting their sick kids into care with words like "teething, allergies, and ear infection". She did not explain that there are many parents who care about the health of the other children in their child's room BEFORE their child gets sick but have no care whatsoever AFTER their child gets sick. IMO, she had an obligation to discuss this beyond just a warning to parents that their child will attend child care with kids who have parents who send them sick. I think she should have described EXACTLY how that is done with specific words and commonalities so parents know the right questions to ask before they enroll.

He discussion of SIDS wasn't specific enough but she did include some current research on the risk of children dying in care within the first day or first week of care. There's enough research out there for her to draw from so I was a little disappointed that she didn't talk specifically about non belly sleepers and babies who have not had belly time at home... being put to lay down on their belly to get them to stop crying and how the first day... week of this is when the infant is in most danger for succumbing to sids. She also didn't devote enough to positional asphyxia and motion equipment and confinement equipment. I would have liked to have seen her be more specific about positional asphyxia and how deaths from this have, in the past, been attributed to SIDs when in reality it was caused by position. Before using the statistics to back up her position, she would have been wise to question how these statistics were difficult to compile due to "sids" being a catch all diagnosis for unexplained infant death.. with direct emphasis on how important it is for medical and state examiners to separate positional asphyxia from SIDS.

There is an overwhelming aura that it is marketed to sell to parents so parents are given a soft place to fall on nearly every really important issue. There is the easy "go to" parental placators that explain WHY parents have it so hard with their children when they have to work, prepare meals, care for the home and the children. Her fundamental position is that children are ALWAYS better off with their parents than in care. She describes the care children receive at home with their parents as being idyllic in contrast to the care they have in group care. I was left to feel she was intimating that the "worst kind of riding beats the best kind of walking" when it came to parental care compared to group care.

I think that is something that will sell her book but it rings empty to me. There are other options out there and home based child care is that option.

Finally I was none too thrilled about her two sentence pass at home child care (at the very end of the book) as a viable alternative to doing time in a center. Her consulation advice was that if you must do home child care you are wise to hire a SAHM who is a good friend and only has a couple of kids because you can't really trust someone you don't know who is not monitored. The "safety in numbers" a center provides with multiple staff is the greatest asset a center has. You won't have that with a home provider so make sure you are friends with the home provider and she doesn't have many kids. This suggestion shows very clearly she doesn't understand a successful home provider. Being bff's with my clients and only running a couple of kids while my kid is little wasn't a business plan that would benefit anyone.. specially me.

The issues that pain her in child care don't exist in my care. My kids are in a multi-level aged group group, they have awesome food, exercise, and toys. My staff assistant changes every three years not every three months, we don't pretend to be teachers, we have the HISTORY with each child from birth to kindy, we have very little illness, and we LOVE them very very much. We aren't the same as parental care but we give good care. It is possible to have a child care where the children receive excellent care and have a substantial amount of awake time under their parents care. I do it every day.

In the end, she did her job. She tackled the two biggies that get a parent to choose a center: Safety in numbers and school. Dismissing the safety and explaining why most centers are not schools and the staff are NOT teachers is a job well done to me. It was a great read and I give her four stars of five. It was awesome for me to read child care material that's new to my brain. Likey that

Daycare Whisperer
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