ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Is a safe, clean daycare center or preschool harder to find than it should be? A recent national poll found that 62 percent of parents report difficulties finding childcare facilities that meet their health and safety standards for their children.
According to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health from the University of Michigan, researchers also found that only half of parents considered themselves “very confident” at discerning which childcare options were truly safe and healthy. The poll included 307 parents across the country who had at least one child ages 1 to 5.
The top deciding factors for parents, according to the poll, varied by age level. Parents looking for preschools wanted safety and play factors, such as outdoor play areas. Those looking for childcare centers for their younger children prioritized safety over all other factors. For example, the average parent in the poll who sought a childcare center for their 2-year-old valued background checks for staff, locked doors, and other safety features over play options.
For in-home childcare facilities, parents were more concerned with healthy food options, clean kitchens, the availability of books, and educational toys.
Nonetheless, 9 out of 10 parents agreed that all childcare facilities should have the same health and safety standards.
“Parents want to feel confident that all childcare and preschool options meet certain standards,” says poll co-director Sarah Clark in a statement. “Parents could then choose their preferred childcare option without compromising their child’s health and safety.”
The poll also identified several “dealbreakers” for parents. Seven in 10 parents wouldn’t let their kids attend a facility located in a “sketchy” neighborhood, while 56 percent passed on a preschool that allowed guns on the premises. Four out of 10 parents also wouldn’t enroll their child somewhere if unvaccinated children were accepted.
“Our poll demonstrates the challenge of choosing a preschool or childcare setting that meets all of a parent’s criteria,” says Clark. “Safety and health factors are important to parents, but too often, parents aren’t sure how to determine if a childcare option is safe and healthy.”
The poll was published by the university on Nov. 20, 2017.