Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Primary Caregiving for Infants

Primary caregiving is the assigning of one caregiver to primarily provide the care for one small group of children.  In this system for operating an infant program, the director, the infant teachers, and the parents all understand which staff member has primary responsibility for each child. 

Of course, primary caregiving in a center-based program cannot be exclusive.  The classroom is staffed by more than one person for a reason and the other staff in that room are responsible for contributing to the care of each child in the room.  Because most programs are open for more than 8 hours per day and your staff can’t work more than 8 hours per day on a regular basis, and because they need lunch breaks, the children will obviously be in the care of someone else at some point during the day.  Or, even if the primary caregiver is in the classroom, but is busy caring for another child, another member of the caregiving team will need to step in to help.  The primary caregiver is just that, primary, but not exclusive.  This individual will provide the majority of the care for the child and, therefore, the majority of the communication with the parent.  This person will also work with other staff members to help them understand the needs of each child in their care when they cannot be with them.

Primary caregiving has a few important benefits; all centered around relationships.  The primary relationship is the relationship between the caregiver and the infant.  The caregiver, while assisting with other children, spends most of their work days focused on just a few children, really getting to know them; feeding them, diapering them, playing with them, consoling them.  The children learn to trust this person to care for them.  This relationship allows the child to be more comfortable in the child care environment and allows the caregiver to better respond to, and even anticipate, the needs of each child.  Better understanding the child helps the caregiver to develop a stronger relationship with the parent.

Parents, especially parents of infants, can have a difficult time entrusting their beloved child to the care of someone else.  If parents know, and have a positive relationship with the individual assigned to be primarily responsible for their children’s care, it is much easier to leave their child with that person.  The parent can learn to trust that the caregiver has their child’s best interest at heart and will keep them apprised of their child’s care and development.

Make sure that the Infant Teachers you hire have the appropriate skills, education and experience that they need to be able to be a member of a primary caregiving team.  If you don’t already have a Job Description for your Infant Teachers (or Infant Teachers’ Aides), check ours out at: http://www.daycaretools.com/DaycareProducts.aspx#Personnel

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Did You Hear Me? (Auditory Memory in Young Children)

Auditory memory, the ability to remember things you hear, is a critical component of learning.  Often, it seems like children aren’t paying attention to what we said, or didn’t hear what we said, but it could also be that they can’t remember what we said.  Auditory memory problems are not uncommon and can be an indicator of future learning challenges.

Auditory memory involves taking in information that is presented orally, processing that information, storing the information in the brain, and recalling the information.   Children who struggle with auditory memory often have difficulties in:
  • Following oral directions
  • Reading
  • Spelling
  • Vocabulary
  • Copying text
  • Taking notes

One common, and simple, measure of auditory memory is digit span (how many digits a child can remember).  The standard for young children (up to 6 years of age) is one digit per year of age.  A 2-year-old should be able to remember 2 digits, a 3-year-old should be able to remember 3 digits, etc.

Because these difficulties are so easy to assess informally, and because the skill is so important to learning, an early childhood program is a great place to start overcoming any challenges in this area.  Besides that, activities to improve auditory memory can be a lot of fun!  Here are a few suggestions:
  • Beading Partners—two children (or one adult and one child) sit back-to-back.  Each one needs several stringing beads and a string.  One person strings some beads, then tells their partner what they strung.  The partner has to reproduce the string without looking at it.  When they are done, they compare strings to see if the child matched his partner’s string.
  • Great Calculations—prepare some cards printed with the number of digits you want a child to practice remembering.  Prepare a few cards with one more digit than your target and a few cards with one less digit.  Have one child draw a card from a basket and read the digits slowly to his partner.  The partner will input the digits on a calculator.  The children will compare the card to the calculator to see if the answer is correct.  
  • Group Memory Games—Go around a circle with each person adding to “I’m going on a trip and I need to pack…”  Each person recites each item that was already mentioned and adds one more item to the list.  For example, “I’m going on a trip and I need to pack a toothbrush.”  The next person might say, “I’m going on a trip and I need to pack a toothbrush and my shoes.” 

Enjoy improving a child’s auditory memory…and perhaps your own in the process!


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Avoiding Trouble with the Tax Man

The Internal Revenue Service—words that strike fear in many hearts, especially this time of year.  Tax time is when you see if you have kept good enough financial records that your tax form preparation isn’t too challenging.  Fortunately, the IRS provides a “Technique Guide” for their auditors that can help child care providers understand IRS requirements. 

They note that some of the most troublesome tax areas for child care programs include:
  • Understated income
  • Overstated expenses
  • Inadequate record keeping 

The issues that the IRS finds that most often need to be adjusted after an audit are:
  • Gross receipts
  • Food reimbursement
  • Food expense
  • Business use of home (for Family Child Care Providers)
  • Unusually large expenses
  • Supplies and miscellaneous expenses 

In addition to a personal interview, the auditor may request to see your:
  • Income records
  • Parent Contracts
  • Rate Sheet
  • Payment policy (for when child is sick, on vacation, etc.)
  • Late child pickup and late fee payment policies
  • Transportation fee policy
  • Additional fees like a fee for holding a space, diaper charges, registration fee, space rental, etc.
  • Parent Sign-in Sheets
  • Child emergency contact information
  • Permission for emergency medical treatment
  • Field trip permission slips
  • Annual parent tax statements
  • Food service information
  • Information on forgivable loans

As for program expenses, the auditor’s main concerns would be the date incurred, the cost, and the business use for each expense.

April 15th doesn’t have to be a big deal, as long as you are maintaining good records.  If you see any areas in which you need a little help in record keeping, check out our website.  We have a lot of these forms available at a low cost.  If you don't find what you need, let us know!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Supervising Children in Child Care Programs

Most parents quickly realize that some of the most concerning times with your children are when they are quiet.  That often means they are up to something that they don’t want you to know about.  This is part of the reason that proper child supervision must be not just auditory, but visual as well. 

In order to keep children safe, we have to know what they are doing at any given time.  This is simply not possible if you cannot see them.  So, how do we make sure that children are properly supervised in our programs?  The first thing to do is to make sure the program is properly staffed at all times, including at least two people in a classroom at any given time.  We cannot give our staff members a requirement to meet, then not provide enough staff to implement it.  One person cannot be expected to keep 15 toddlers safe.  If you have a classroom of 16 toddlers and one needs a diaper change, and you can’t afford to have an extra staff member available to help out with diaper time, the person changing the diaper must also be tasked with scanning the classroom throughout the change.  This is the time for multi-tasking; speak with and attend to the toddler whose diaper you are changing while assisting in the supervision of the other children.  While that staff member may not be able to physically get to an area of the classroom that needs attention, they can alert the other staff member of any potential problems that they observe. 

The other thing we need to do for our staff members to ensure proper child supervision is to specifically train them on how to provide appropriate supervision.  Again, we are making a commitment to our staff’s ability to be successful.  We have to give them the proper tools.  We can’t put someone in a classroom and tell them we expect them to supervise each child at all times, then not show them how to do that.  Meeting the needs of each individual child while ensuring that the entire group is being properly supervised can be quite tricky.  As much as it seems like second nature to many of us by now, it’s not intuitive to everyone.  Each staff member must be trained on child supervision during their New Employee Orientation, observed periodically to ensure that they are employing the techniques they were taught, and receive regular follow-up training.  If you don’t already have a training for your staff for child supervision, check ours out at: http://daycaretools.com/DaycareProducts.aspx#Personnel