Friday, March 30, 2012

Drowning In Paperwork part 2

 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"...
...good luck!""


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.

3 comments:

  1. In my mind, this is job protection. If the validator found all centres living up to her standards, she would be out of a job. Typical socialist bull crap...protect the beauracracy first and foremost. Just think...if these programs actually worked, they would be out of a job after the first few times. They have to make work for themselves so i am sure they sit around a table and think up things that they can use to justify their jobs. They are no different than any of the *programs* that seek to regulate our lives. Talk to your Wildrose candidate about this.

    My daughter runs a day home and is subject to the same standards as you. Surprise visits, endless hours spent filling out forms and making lists to make sure that the children are being given what the validator wants them to get....

    Hang in there...hopefully this province will change in the next month and we can look forward to less regulations running our lives.

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  2. Thanks. We actually suggested to parents that they forward their letters to our MLA as well so you never know.

    As for dayhomes, this is really a hearsay story because I was not there - but I know that it can happen. A girl I haven known for over 20 years runs a dayhome and for many, many years she did it as a licensed one so that subsidized families could come to her as well. She loved it. She got to stay home with her own 3 girls over the years and make some money. But about 4 years ago her husband got a new job working night shift. She knew she was having an inspection, the 'annual announced visit', but hubby was in the bedroom sleeping off the night shift when the inspector came in.

    the inspector was really nice, going around the room, seemed to like how it was all set up, but then she was checking out the bathroom and such and came to the closed bedroom door. She asked what was in there and my friend said 'my husband, he is sleeping'. The inspector opened the door anyway! her husband heard the door opening, half in and half out of sleep, and sat up looking dazed and confused at the figure standing in the doorway.

    The inspector did not say anything like 'sorry about that' or any acknowledgement whatsoever. My friend quit immediately after the inspector left. She gave 2 weeks notice to her subsidized parents but told them she wanted this done sooner rather than later and they had all been transferred to other dayhomes under the satellite company within a week. My friend runs privately now and therefore can only cater to those who can afford to pay a full fee. She started out wanting to help those who were struggling, but then had to move on to those who are not. People in my city who are subsidized only have to pay around $100 a month for full time care, and there is no way my friend is going to look after someone's child 180 hours a month for a hundred bucks, so it's onto the higher earners now.

    I was not there, but her husband echoed the story. He said 'what if i had been coming out of the shower or getting dressed or something?'. while understanding that the inspector thinks she is doing her job to check and make sure that the children are safe, being in your private home to do it doesnt work all the time. It's not really your private home anymore. If the inspector had been there to answer a complaint such as someone reporting my friend was looking after more than 6 kids or something, maybe that could explain needing to check every corner of the house for children hiding in a closet or something - but when it's just a regular visit and all of your past years have stellar reports, there should be no need to invade privacy like that. they lost a good dayhome worker because of that incident. I know the woman that runs the company and she has always said she really misses my friend because she was so reliable. It's sad to see so many good people give up their childcare jobs because of govt interference.

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  3. Oh and I know that in the past year, dayhomes have had even more paperwork added. I have another friend doing this and she was in shock after the last meeting. In a dayhome it can even be worse because there is only one person there doing the job - how can you be effectively supervising the children (as the govt calls it), and be sitting around filling out forms too? Forms that no one will look at aside from once or twice a year at inspections?

    I think what aggravates me most is that every time they make a 'suggestion' to us, we lose marks if we dont do it. That's not a 'suggestion' then, is it? the official letter I have from Accreditation SAYS 'you may consider the following suggestions' right on it... but then we got docked marks for not precisely following/adding each one. AND then next time, they don't even look at those forms at all. They come up with another list of new things to do. I cant decide what it's going to be next time... we play a game trying to guess but after 7 years, I am running out of ideas. Probably a crackdown on the amount of professional development everyone has been doing... which we only do FREE ones and try to find evening and weekend classes (rare)... WHY? Because if we keep doing them during the week, it will cost the parents more, which is what we always try to avoid. For now.

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These are my views and opinions. If you don't agree or think I am sadly misguided, that is your view. Feel free to share your thoughts but I also reserve my right to moderate content (IE foul language, excessive flaming, etc).

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