“Daycare provider, a suspect in past abuse, charged in connection with child skull fracture.”
This news headline from earlier this month in Springfield, Missouri is not uncommon. When a child is abused or neglected in a family child care home it’s often front page news.
But, are children in more danger in a licensed family child care home than in other settings?
I’ve believed for a long time that the more regulated the environment is for health and safety, the safer the child will be in that environment. In other words, I’ve assumed that children are safer in a licensed home than an illegal home and, for that matter, in their own home!
I recently saw a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services entitled Child Maltreatment 2014 that supports part of my assumption. The report details who are the perpetrators who cause or knowingly allow the maltreatment of children. 78% of perpetrators were the parent. Another .5% were the foster parent or legal guardian. .5% were friends and neighbors. How often were child care providers the perpetrators? .4%
So, the safest place for children to be protected against maltreatment is in a child care setting.
I haven’t seen other reports that address the broader question of child safety and the child’s environment. I would like to see a study that looks at children’s death, injury, abuse and neglect that is based on police reports, hospital visits, child protection records, etc. to see where children are the safest.
Again, I would assume that the most dangerous place for a child is in the child’s home. The next most dangerous place would be with an illegal family child care provider. The safest places would probably be in a licensed child care center, followed closely by a licensed family child care home. I conclude this because centers are more regulated than homes. I would love to see a report that either proves or disproves my assumption.
What can be done?
Whenever a child is maltreated it is a tragedy, no matter where it occurs. We should not lower regulations of child care programs simply because it happens there so infrequently.
We need to keep perspective about the dangers around us. We fear the stranger, the person we don’t know, the culture that is different from us, way out of proportion to the risk they pose. Child care providers who are perpetrators should not be a media focus. Child maltreatment should be the focus and the fact is that it is caused overwhelming by the child’s parents. That’s where our focus to address this problem should be.
I wrote a previous article, “How to to Handle Negative Media Coverage About Child Care.”
Tom Copeland – www.tomcopelandblog.com
Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ctsenatedems/