Posted on | July 27, 2010 | 9 Comments
Finding a daycare is hard work.
We were lucky with our Macon day care. They were… amazing. When J “graduated” to the next class, his teacher got as teary-eyed as I did. When we left to move to Savannah, his new teacher made him a book full of pictures of his time there and of his friends. (cue more tears). And we really just stumbled onto that daycare. We had gone to the church several times and Husband sang in the choir. I knew they had a facility and we just put it on our list of places to tour. We only toured two day cares because, as we’ve covered, I’m impatient and I wanted to check “daycare” off my list. Two daycare. Seriously. That’s nuts.
So when I started this whole moving process, I thought finding a day care would be fairly easy. You ask around. You check the government website for violations. You visit. You fall in love. The end.
Only it is NOT that easy.
I didn’t know anyone with children in Savannah except the partner at the Savannah office and his wife was a SAHM. I did ask my friends, but no one actually IN Savannah had any suggestions. Finally, a law school friend asked a family member who provided a list of places. It just so happened that four of the places on her list matched up with a list I got from a pre-K facility in Savannah. I figured it was as good a place as any to start.
And so began my quest for the perfect daycare.
First, I tried to look up the facilities on the Georgia website.
I am not a moron, I swear. But that website was beyond me. I could locate the facilities and I could read the reports, but I just didn’t really understand them. They don’t actually grade the facilities, unfortunately. Instead, they just link up the PDF files with a rundown of the most recent compliance inspections.
Seriously? I don’t want to read a compliance inspection. I want a grade. Give it a number. We grade restaurants, why can’t we grade daycare? How hard would it be to post a letter and number grade in each facility? I could look up the compliance report to see what caused the 99 rather than 100 and that would be SO much easier. Instead, I have to pour through a report that says “Not inspected. Not inspected. Satisfactory. Not inspected” etc. What is satisfactory? No rats? No mildew? I DON’T KNOW. It was a disaster.
All the facilities had violations but they were things like “diaper on counter” which I considered less of a “violation” and more of a “petty nit pick because inspector had a bad day.”
So I marked “check government website” off my list as being sincerely UNhelpful, and moved on to my final “step”: visiting the facilities.
Um. How do you critique a day care?? You can’t exactly poll the children to see how they like the place. You can’t pull aside a teacher, slip her a $20 and ask for the Gospel truth. All you can do is meet with the director and let her take you on a tour of a pre-arranged location that could have been spruced up just for your arrival. You just don’t know. And all the day cares I called requested I set a time to visit to ensure the director would be available.
I don’t like setting times. I like to drop in. Dropping in means no prep time. Dropping in means you can’t move the mess before I see it. But I was a good girl and I scheduled my visits. Well, my first visits anyway. Of the four original daycare on my list, I whittled it down to two because one had a wait list of 18 months (um… unhelpful much?) and another had a woman answer the phone who seemed REALLY annoyed that I was asking her any questions at all. That left me with two daycare to visit. Two. Just like in Macon. Fate? We’ll see.
I pretty much liked both facilities, but one more than the other. We visited both facilities on a schedule and then I went back later and dropped in for additional questions. Nothing stood out as epically wrong at either place but nothing felt as sincerely right as Macon, either. J would be put in a room without a crib. He would nap on the floor at both places. On the floor. That just seems so… big kid. He’s a baby!! He needs a crib!!!
You’d think with all the emphasis being placed on the care of our children that someone somewhere would streamline this whole daycare process. I’m not insisting on a letter grade, but consider it a suggestion. Think of how much faster it would be if you could scroll through and knock out 75% of all daycare as failing at life?! Or how much nicer places would be if they had to post their scores on the front door.
So Government officials? Particularly in Georgia… think about an overhaul. That DECAL site is a useless joke. And I say that with all due respect. (ha.)
And don’t forget about Trent and Drew Grady… just $5.00 enters you to win one of many amazing prizes including a handmade wine stopper from my dear friend Mandy!