By Wes Fessler
If this picture doesn't convince you of the importance of background checking your prospective childcare providers, you and your children may be faced with some unpredictable and unpleasant surprises in selecting a childcare provider.
Even if your childcare provider's facility or home doesn't look like this one, there is frequently more behind the scenes than you are able to see at first glance. It is amazing how stable, reliable, and trustworthy childcare providers can seem from a phone call or even during a face-to-face interview. It is unwise to assume that what you see is what you get with childcare providers (although many may be exactly as wonderful as they present themselves to be). The truth is that no matter how exceptional the indroductory act may be, there may be an entirely different encore.
I know it may sound a little paranoid and distrustful, but having put my children through their share of childcare, I can say through experience that no one can truly know what a childcare provider will be like for the long term, and the more one can determine up front, the more likely the probability will be of a pleasant outcome for children and parents alike. It is not convenient to spend the money on a background check (which is actually quite reasonable), but the alternative can be infinitely worse.
Whether it is a complete stranger or a well-known acquaintance, always play by the same rule...background check! Don't be susceptible to your own good nature and the rationalization that can blind you to the possibility that it is worth the effort. Even people who you think you know can behave inappropriately, and treat your children in ways that you would be shocked to discover. When it comes to childcare, you should never assume that everything is as rosy as it appears from a glance. In choosing a childcare provider it is important to reach beyond your gut instinct, and obtain documentable evidence to support your good and trusting nature.
Don't gamble on the well-being of your children, while you're away trying to keep life together. A background check is no guarantee that you will get the perfect childcare provider, but it is another tool to help you eliminate those who could be the worst.