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Another Daycare Center Vent

11 replies [Last post]
By Christine on Mon, 07-26-99, 12:03

As most of you have gathered from my previous posts, I have never had good luck with Evan's daycare taking his allergy seriously. Recently, Evan was moved from the 3/4s room into the pre-K class. I had several lengthy discussions with the director regarding his class change. A few of the staff had left the center and there was a shortage of teachers in the pre-K room, so the director did not know WHO Evan's teacher would be. So, I had no teacher to interface with. The director told me that all of Evan's allergy information would be transferred to the new classroom and whoever was going to be in the class would be briefed. She later told me that all of this had been done and that several of the staff would be rotating in his class and they were all comfortable with his restrictions and the Epi-Pen. He has been in this class approximately 3 weeks. We have had two incidents since then. The first was that they continued to serve peanut butter snacks in the classroom even though the director assured me that his class was peanut free. Fortunately they did not give him any. The second thing happened last week when they served him a ranch dip containing eggs. Over and over I went regarding the food allergies. Last night, my husband said to me, "Hon, have you looked at Evan's allergy list in his class." I told him that I don't get to see it as his class is closed up in the morning and my husband picks up in the afternoon. My husband told me that there is no list, there is just a note card. So, this morning at 5:45 a.m. I made it a point to get into his class room and search for his stuff. Tacked on a bulletin board was a 3 x 5 card with the name "Evan" on it. Under that it says "Peanut/Egg Allergy" "Do not feed Cheerios or Muffins." I don't know where his big list was, or his picture with his name by it. Just this little card. I have NO idea why they won't feed him Cheerios--I never told them that. I said to stay away from Honey Nut Cheerios. Maybe they just thought it easier to avoid all Cheerios (giving them the benefit of the doubt here). I am just stunned. I have been through this SO MANY TIMES with them. Well, I just wanted to vent here because I am so upset. I know many of you are probably thinking "why doesn't she get out of there." Well, any of you who deal with daycare probably know that it just isn't that easy. I have been to every center in my area and a few home providers and it doesn't get any better. I can't keep ripping my son out of a place he is comfortable everytime someone goofs. The poor kid would be in a new place every other month. Guess I just need some sympathy!! Why don't people take this seriously. And yes, I have given them articles about peanut allergy deaths, I give them notices about food alerts, everything I can think of. Well thanks for listening.
Christine

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By on Mon, 07-26-99, 12:45

Christine,

My son is multiply allergic to foods also. When he went to pre-shool the only way I could be certain he was eating his safe foods was to pack them and place items needed refrig. in their small refrig. clearly labelled for him. He was under going food elimination diets during that time and food challenges at his allergist office.

I know my son has lots more allergies than most kids, however, I just can't see giving the responsibilty away to day school provider to choose safe foods especially since safe foods change when food companies change their ingred. list or worse yet change what they run on the same line.

I thought I had found a egg free, nut free ice cream and bought it for my son for about 6 months. Somewhere during that time the company added butter pecan and peanuts to the line! Pecan was one of the items on his CAP RAST that went up and peanut is already over the measurable scale.

I know this may seem extreme, but have you considered packing his food?

Jan

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By SteveW on Mon, 07-26-99, 14:01

My wife and I have set up very specific guidelines along with our day care center. They are to only serve him fruit from the center. We provide everything else. This clear distinction eliminates any guesswork on their part. We have a seperate basket where we keep snacks (all labeled with my son's name) at the school. We keep a variety of snacks so the teachers can give him something similar to the other people in his class. I have been there a couple times at snack time. The teachers have set out Cheerios/Ritz crackers for each of the children. They then went to my son's basket and pulled out the same snacks. Every Wednesday during summer and ice cream truck provides snowcones to much of the school. We have a box of popcicles in the school's freezer.

We worked with his new teacher in the 2s during his transition. The school has many sensory activities, several of which involve food, and we actively work with his teachers to ensure the food used is safe. His teachers have seen "It Only Takes One Bite: Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis" and the video will be shown during the school's "in-service" in August.

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By Christine on Mon, 07-26-99, 15:17

Jan and Steve--thanks for your input. My frustration comes from the fact that I have tried to do some of things you both have suggested.

Jan--I have never felt it necessary (yet) to provide all of his food. The center has a fairly limited menu (about 8 different items for lunch and 4 different items for breakfast) which rotates. They have even made some adjustments in their recipes to suit Evan's allergy. For instance, they make a broccoli cheese casserole that originally called for mayonnaise--they now use sour cream in its place. I have not had any problems with the "regular" meals. They consist mainly of plain meats, cooked vegetables and fruit--99% of which are peanut and egg-free. They have the occasional pancake breakfast and they always have given Evan cereal on these mornings. They also have the occasional PB&J lunch and, either his class with have bologna, or if they "slip up" the whole class will get the PB&J and Evan will get a bologna sandwich. Also, I'm not sure the staff is "together" enough to realize he would even have different meals there. Since he arrives so early, he has breakfast in a different room with a different teacher than with lunch. I'm sure they would find some way to screw this up (can you see I have no faith?).

Steve--after the last day care fiasco, I took your advice and sent in a bag of snacks such as cereal bars, apple sauce etc. to be given to Evan when there was not a suitable snack, if there was a party, or if the teachers were just "unsure". Somehow, that bag is missing. Just last week there was a party in the classroom (unbeknownst to me) and they served cupcakes. They knew not to give Evan one but they did not give him any of his own snacks and he ate Saltines while the others had cupcakes. I have told them all a million times to inform me of upcoming birthdays, etc. They don't. It all boils down to pure laziness on their part.

I've pretty much decided that I'm going to have to find a way to quit my job. My husband and I are going over our finances and I'm aiming to leave my job early next year. We will most certainly go into financial ruin over this; however, I don't feel like I can put my son through yet another daycare change, not unless I could get some guarantee that it would be better.
Christine

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By Lynda on Mon, 07-26-99, 16:16

Christine....My husband and I have decided that although our quality of life would improve if I were to work, it is to much for us to risk putting Sean in a daycare setting. We have bounced this idea back and forth several times, with 4 children it is hard to live on one salary in NJ, but we keep coming back to the same conclusion. Is the risk worth the consequence? For us, the answer is no. We have decided that maybe he can take a second job or I can find work at home or at night. My sister works in the daycare business as a nutritionist and she is trying to find a new career. She can no longer take the neglect that she witnesses. Sometimes she fills in for classes when the teacher has decided she has had enough and leaves. If this is the level of competency, they can keep it. I am not saying that all daycare centers are this way, but I am not willing to risk one of the most precious gifts god has given me. "I'm sorry" just wouldn't be good enough. Good luck to you and your family in whatever decision you make. Lynda

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By Christine on Mon, 07-26-99, 17:19

Lynda,
Thanks so much for your post. Sometimes I just need someone to say what you have said. Not to start a new thread on the pros/cons of staying at home--but this is a really tough choice. Not because I love my job, because I actually hate it, but I worry about us financially. On my husband's salary alone, we cannot pay our basic bills. Fortunately, we have no credit card debt--just the basics. We live in the Washington, DC area and life is not easy or cheap. I also worry that one day the kids will need to go to college and we will need to retire. My husband is an electrician and makes a decent salary, he is also a reservist so he works one weekend per month. I am hesitant to take a night time job while my hubby works all day. My cousin did that and she is now divorced. I want to stay home, but also keep a "normal" family life. Right now, I'm going to take the next few months to get squared away a little better financially and work on how we can reduce our basic living expenses.

I also decided that I would like to be home when my son starts Kindergarten in the Fall of 2000. I want to be able to be up at that school and participate in what is going on in his classroom. If I can become a "room mom" I can have a lot more control over the type of celebrations that are done.

Thanks,
Christine

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By SteveW on Mon, 07-26-99, 21:18

Christine,

Is part time an option for you? This would obviously reduce the amount of time your son spends in the center, help with the finances and make a full-time re-entry into the labor market (if that's your desire) easier. The current labor market may also provide additional leverage.

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By Christine on Mon, 07-26-99, 21:59

Steve,
The *best* my employer can offer me is a 4-day week versus a 5-day week. My company has no provision for part-time workers, nor wants to, so if I do go part time, I lose any leave earning ability and any contributions to 401K, along with reduced medical benefits. It's really not worth it for the one day. Financially (which is not the most important), it just doesn't "pay" to go part time either. My commuting costs do not go down, and my daycare costs only reduce by about $15 per week. I realize that this is not the case in every situation, but it is with my particular job and the particular daycare center that I use. Most centers in our area do not encourage part-time care. Guess it's not a money maker for them.
Christine

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By on Mon, 07-26-99, 23:11

I know your son is still in daycare, but this may give you future food for thought: I also don't know where you are from or how things are set up in your schools, but an option in my area that really caught my attention was as a teacher's aide in our schools. Of course the salary was not outstanding (but better than nothing!), but the benefits of: being near my PA child, keeping the same hours, having the same holidays/vacations, being on the 'inside' at the schools, etc. were definitely wonderful! Many mothers in my area take this route and love it!

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By Christine on Mon, 07-26-99, 23:58

KWest,
Sounds good to me! As far as I know, our county school system has very little budget for teacher's aides and the ones they do hire are probably qualified enough to be full-fledged teachers but just don't want to. Most of us moms have to be just volunteers; however, the school system is really hurting for part time and full time food service workers. It only pays $6 per hour but if I could do that while my son is in school AND have control of the food that would be good. Don't know if I'm really cut out for food service but it's worth a try right? It pays a lot less than I make right now and something tells me it is probably much harder work. Also, one of the food service workers at my daughter's school got to be a paid, part-time aide in my daughter's class. Maybe that is the way in.
Christine

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By carrie on Tue, 07-27-99, 02:09

I have just taken a leave of absence from my job as a teacher. My son will start nursery school in Sept. and they have agreed to ask parents to not send in peanut/nut snack--actually they are calling it a nut free school. I am educating the owner, providing safe snack options lists(with foods we give our son), and hope to be an ever present mother. It was a very hard decision to leave a job I really love, but I was a nervous wreck knowing that he was in a home with peanut butter being served and I could not find a peanut free daycare that was also nurturing and safe. So for now, we are trying to adjust our lifestyle--we are used to buying without restrictions. But for my sanity and for my little guy,my piece of mind is irreplacable. Hope this helps.

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By SteveW on Tue, 07-27-99, 18:39

Christine,

One other option to consider is a nannie. Hiring a nannie to watch your child/children in the relative safety of your home would reduce risk. I know it's more expensive than a typical daycare center. How much, I'm not certain.

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