Continuing on from THIS POST and THIS POST, I have now finished most of the paperwork for our 'second site visit'. It is supposed to happen sometime in the next two weeks and we will get 24 hours notice of the visit from a different Validator. One person posted a comment on my second blog entry that made me realize he/she did not read it properly ""Sorry..your place knew the rules..it wasn't done... no sympathy."" and I responded to explain more about what went on in the first Site Visit for being re-accredited as a childcare center (Alberta). I can report now as well that after I went through the 30+ items they wished to address, I only had to make changes to 5 things. And those were minor changes too, like adding the single word 'fears' to our registration form (even though we already had a large section for parents to add any other info we should know about the child), or making a file folder called Incident Reports (even though we kept them in a binder that says the same words on it), and silly things like that. I spent 2-4 hours each day this week typing up the 'suggestions' in their report and compiling the evidence that we already had all of those things in place and received a zero mark for nothing. I got out the report from our 2009 site visit where it states that the Validators approved of our monthly theme calendar and luckily I kept EVERYTHING because it shows that we sent a copy of the calendar TO accreditation for approval. Now they are suddenly not approving it for reasons they cannot seem to explain. It's like a subjective thing - one validator reads the points they are supposed to look for 'evidence of' and says it's okay, and another one comes along next time and decides it's not okay. That is the main problem I have with this system - there is no set list of things they expect, yet they hold the power in their hands to take away Accredited status in a flash. We were off the website the same day we received the letter. They can sure work fast when they want to!
I got a comment on my first post that sums up how I feel about it and the real reasons behind this 'Accreditation' fad: ""I don't think anything they are doing in the Province is done well and this just proves it as another example. To not check your equipment, schedule, enhancements and simply your paperwork, an insult. It's obviously NOT about the kids but is about the bureaucracy. This is simply so if anything happens to 1 child in a childcare facility, they can say "we have strict GUIDELINES"...
I have said much the same thing myself. I do realize that some paperwork is very important and can come in handy, and those are things we have been doing for years anyway as they are required by basic licensing. Such as, having parents sign their child in and out each day. That is very important because of many reasons. For example, what if a non-custodial parent shows up to get the child (this is allowed as long as we have their name and there is no court order presented stating they cannot have access without the custodial parent's permission, just so you know), and then later the other parent shows up and pitches a fit. We can show any authorities the first parent's signature, and their name in our files, and no court order - and then it's up to the parents to duke it out instead of blaming us. It's also required for those receiving subsidy so that we can easily prove how many hours a child attended each month and show that we are not claiming more hours to try to steal money from the govt coffers. Or in a case that happened awhile back, a parent whose child had picked up a bad tummy bug phoned the health inspector and said that we must not be cleaning properly because there have been 'lots of children missing from daycare'. Guess what? When the health inspector came, she did not ask to see the cleaning checklists (cos she knows how easily those can be faked), but asked to see the attendance record (which showed only one child has missed a day or two here and there, but everyone else had been there every day for over a month). She compared the attendance record we keep to the parent sign-in book and saw that it all matched up. Right off the bat, because of that kind of paperwork, she knew that she was dealing with a parent who was blowing things out of proportion and trying to put blame in the wrong direction. That kind of paperwork can save our hinies directly and it's something we have always done.
But some of this other stuff is crazy. I am happy to report that when we get our second site visit, we will have an incident report to show them. We had none in over 6 months because we do our best to keep the children safe - but we LOST a point because of that. Can you imagine? My lord. But yesterday, a toddler tripped and smacked his face on a wooden cubby and got a small bruise so we filled out the form, his mommy signed it, and we proudly placed it in our new Incident Report file folder. YAY. A kid hurt himself so we can finally get a mark for having a record on file. Can you not see how completely insane that is???? Good god.
We had attempted to file an appeal and I spent hours putting everything together - only to receive a phone call the next day telling us that an appeal can take more than 6 MONTHS. I printed off the appeals info and it does not say that anywhere. All it says is that a committee will meet behind closed doors to go over the file we submitted and then render it's decision. The Executive Director of accreditation told us that it 'can take a long time to get everyone together for this'. WTF? this is their JOB. What else do they do, paid by YOU and me, that takes them away from ----- accrediting centers? Are you kidding me? Wow. She said the best thing to do would be to file for a second site visit (you only get two chances total) and so we did. You cannot file an appeal and a second site visit at the same time either, even though the committee cannot seem to get their act together for several months yet. So we had to formally cancel our appeal request and apply for a site visit. Again. It's ridiculous. Who thinks up these govt rules anyway? It's funny until it happens to you - then it is degrading and frustrating.
So fine... we do it all again. you might think it would be easy because I had already sent the package of proof to Edmonton. But - this meant I had to go back through every single file the center has for it's business (hundreds of separate files) and re-date them all at the bottom to say 'Reviewed and Revised March 2012'. Because it said 'Reviewed and Revised February 2012' on the last set.... can't have that! We have to prove that we went over every detail AGAIN so we have to redate them. I have tunnel vision after so much time spent deleting, copying and pasting, saving the same thing over and over again. THEN I had to print them all out AGAIN because all of our printed documents in the binder versions have to say March 2012 on them too. *sigh*. The govt is famous for killing trees with it's paper waste. I broke the shredder too. Boohoo poor me, I had to type and print stuff, you might be thinking, but this is costing the center and the parents time and money. That is my concern. Instead of me working with my preschool group for 2 hours a day, a casual staffer has to come in and do it. Is that what the parents want? Do they want me, with 17 years experience, working with their kiddos, or someone they barely know who has only worked a few hours a month here and there for the past few years? That is my concern, not my typing fingers breaking off ;)
Anyway, back on topic, I could not just reprint the last page of each document either because when I had to add a new word here and there or title a section differently, most of the documents changed enough that printing just the last page off did not help. Lots could stay the same - single pages for menus and checklists, for example - but the huge policy books had to be redone - and in triplicate. UGH. I made $300 extra in the month of march for doing all of this, based on the hours spent - but we already barely make it through each month as it is. If this keeps up, parent fees are going to have to increase to cover my extra hours of 'support staff' while everyone else can catch up on the weekly and monthly paperwork. We have to keep proof of every single days events and activities to submit proof of at our annual accreditation review each Feb/March so this will continue. I dont mind the extra cash, but it could mean an increase of $10 to $20 a month for parents after we just increased the fee by $20 last year as it is, and cut out Hot Lunch Fridays to save parents another $20 increase. That might not seem like a lot but I work in a very small center. Imagine this going on in centers across the province where there are more classrooms within the center (we have one) and a whole ream of this stuff has to be done for EACH room. So a large city daycare center could have to produce 15 times the amount of work I have done - literally. How much do you think those parents fees could increase? They have higher numbers of students so perhaps the increase would be the same, or it could go up $50 to $100 a month. Who knows. I guess everyone will find out as they get into this with us.
Keep in mind, we were one of the first centers accredited in the entire province back in 2006. So we are one of the first ones to go through this current re-accreditation session. The rest will follow over the next year and it will be interesting to see how other centers fair in my city, and across the province. The new kit came out in July 2011 and only those doing their full re-accreditation after that date will know what they are facing.
At any rate, I would like to feel confident that we have it all perfected now - but I don't. I am nervous. We requested a different Validator this time and have no idea what she will be like. It's a nervous waiting game. In the meantime, my boss is having tests done on a cervical tumor, her husband was in the throes of another heart attack last week, my other coworkers are all related and had a family tragedy last weekend, and I think I am getting an ulcer or something plus I have alopecia and my hair has been falling out in fist fulls (literally, I am almost bald at the temples right now, most likely because of the stress)... and I dont think this is what Accredited childcare is supposed to be about. I have not been able to work with my own group of kids for over 6 weeks now as it is. It's getting a bit crazy.