It has come to my attention that child care offered by gyms and other facilities are not accountable to Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF)/ Department of Children and Families (DCF) for licensing and make their own policies for standards of care of the children they watch. It is imperative that these facilities are held accountable for child care practices that are not acceptable but not deemed criminal. Most child care facilities that are licensed through DCYF/DCF and have standards of care that are enforced and the standards are regulated by the state. DCYF/DCF cannot investigate short-term child care facilities for maltreatment. This needs to change.
I started this petition after my son (26 months) experienced something traumatic at the short-term care at the YMCA of Westerly. After the experience I posted a review to their Facebook page (which they took down). I also filed a police report and called DCYF. The police deemed it not bad enough to be criminal and DCYF could not investigate because it was a short-term care facility and therefore out of their jurisdiction. This is where the change must happen. I think my complaint would have been taken more seriously if the company was accountable to DCYF. As is stands, the YMCA and other facilities that offer drop-off care are not held to these standards but set their own. The YMCA has denied me access to their child care policy that was in place at the time of the incident. If they were under DCYF/DCF they would have to adhere to the following state regulated policies that would have helped my son never to have had a traumatic experience:
Infant and Toddler Space
1.Children under the age of three years have rooms or areas physically separate from those used by children three years and over.
Corporal Punishment and Restraint
1.Staff do not physically restrain children.
2.Staff do not restrain a child in a high chair for reasons other than feeding/
3.Staff do not hit, grab, push or pull the children or engage in any form of
4.Children are not subjected to cruel or severe punishment, humiliation,
physical punishment, threats or verbal abuse, including yelling or
5.Children are not ignored or neglected.
6.Children are not deprived of meal, snacks, physical activity or outdoor
play as a reward or behavior consequence. Exceptions may only be
made if specifically stated in a child’s Individualized Education Program
(IEP) or Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP).
7.Children are not punished for soiling, wetting or not using the toilet.
They would also have to have a licensed ECE educator in the child care at all times. http://www.dcyf.ri.gov/docs/center_regs.pdf
A summary of the incident:
Saturday February 22, my son (26 months) was in the care of the YMCA Westerly Child Watch, was locked in the bathroom alone. He was left there wet, confused and afraid. One of the Child Watch employees came down to inform me that my son had removed his pants because he had gone pee. I rushed up stairs from Studio A to the Child Watch to find my son locked in the bathroom. The bathroom doesn't have a lock, someone was holding the door shut so he couldn't get out. He was screaming, obviously frightened. Locking a young boy into the bathroom after he has peed makes him feel shamed and scared. Both are which my child should not feel or associate to using the bathroom. The employee heard his screams and did nothing.
The Westerly YMCA has a policy not to help children to the bathroom even if they ask and need assistance getting on the toilet. I am not disputing their policy and knew I would have to come and help him go to the bathroom. He is 2 years old and pretty much potty trained. However, he slips up on occasion, as in the incident on February 22, 2014. Shutting the door behind a 2 year old boy after he had an accident and then took off his pants should not be deemed acceptable or appropriate. My son should not have had a traumatic experience at the hands of a child care facility.
I met with the VP of operations and he basically contested my experience and what I witnessed saying that my child was not locked in the bathroom. My child WAS shut in it, not able to get out, that equals locked. He has placed blame on my child for taking his pants off because he was wet. They could not have an exposed child and it made the staff uncomfortable. What would have happened if I was in the shower not just studio A? He stated that his employee did nothing wrong and because of their policy nothing will change. I was and still am appalled and disheartened.
Please Sign this petition so all children are protected and all child care facilities can become accountable under DCYF/ DCF. Children and incidences that are unacceptable by DCYF’s normal standards should not fall through the cracks because the facility only offers short-term care.