THIS story happened literally just down the street from me. To summarize it for you (in case you are just too sleepy to click ), a four month old was found dead in a daycare and investigators have discovered numerous failures within the facility that could have contributed to the baby’s death.
As a mama, I can not even comprehend the horror that this family is going through. Can’t. Even. Imagine. Many prayers for them and a peace that passes all understanding.
It is also a grim reminder of the gravity of what we do every single time we open our church doors and take on the care of little ones. EVERY time. We have precious babies in our care, who are totally at the mercy of the volunteers that we put into our nursery. We have nervous mama’s and daddies who hear stories like this and are reminded the risk they take every time they hand their beloved baby to someone else.
What precautions can we be reminded of by tragedies like this?
1. Policies should be in writing and should be in practice. This article quoted policies that the facility had in place, however they were obviously not put into practice by all of the workers. Make sure that you do have specific policies for your church nursery, including how babies should be fed and how they should be laid down to sleep according to SIDS safety standards. Don’t assume that people know what you want them to do. Older generations did things differently and every family operates under their own methods of dealing with babies, and probably all of those babies turned out just fine. However, you are caring for other people’s babies. You can not take the risk. Your policies must reflect the most current recommendations from medical professionals. You can find the recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics here.
But policies on paper are not enough. Every volunteer in your nursery should be trained and aware of the policies. Evaluate regularly to make sure that they are being followed. Policies and procedures tend to become lax over time. Continue to communicate how vital it is to follow the policies. Don’t be afraid to lovingly confront a volunteer who is not following outlined procedures. Remember, you are acting in the best interest of the babies. If a volunteer refuses to follow what they are being asked, it is perfectly ok to uninvited them to serve in the baby room.
2. Accountability is a good thing. This facility had the accountability of security cameras, so there was no question what did and did not happen. I’m a big fan of in-classroom cameras for this reason. Not necessarily to prove something wrong that a worker did, but more so for the worker’s protection. 99.9% of our volunteers are going to do the absolute right things. By having cameras if anything is ever called into question we can prove that the workers did the right thing. However, in the extremely rare case that neglect occurs, there is no question about that either. In the absence of cameras, there must be some accountability. To me, two adults in a room is a non-negotiable. Accountability protects our little ones and protects our volunteers.
3. Taking action can’t wait. One of the shocking sentences in the article was that the director did not report a worker who was under the influence of narcotics until other workers said something about it. We have no idea of the why’s in this situation. It is too easy to justify waiting or making sure you have all of your facts straight. Do what has to be done to protect babies. Be wise. Be cautious. But don’t fail in protecting little ones by being over-protective of grown ups.
These are a few of the takeaways I took from this awful story. If you are in kidmin, use this as a time to re-evaluate what is happening in your baby nursery. If you are a parent, partner with your church to help provide the best environment possible. (Maybe approach as “how can we…” instead of “why don’t you…”)
What would you add to lessons learned from this story?