Many parents have a hard time trusting just anyone to take care of their child. But with full-time work, scheduling conflicts, and other obligations, it's not uncommon for families to utilize daycare services. To some, it is comforting to know that their little bundles of joy are taken care of, but that's not always case. Parents, daycare workers, and even adults who were in childcare when they were young, share their worst experiences dealing with, and having to endure, specific daycare situations. Content has been edited for clarity.
"I tried to do a childcare apprenticeship at a local childcare center. Initially it seemed like a lovely place, but I soon realized that was just a front put on for the parents.The owner was not a nice woman. She would make fun of the kids, talk down to them (and me) and would generally bully anyone she could. I never received any real guides on what the center’s policies were on appropriate methods of disciplining, talking to, or even just interacting with the children. But the owner would go crazy and make fun of you the minute you did anything wrong.
But what made it worse, I remember the day when one of the kids, who had a behavioral disorder, was giving the manager some trouble. And instead of really helping him and taking care of him, she just started passive aggressively making fun of him in front of all the other kids.
When I left and was going to leave a formal complaint with the apprenticeship board, the owner of the daycare basically threatened me."
“I used to work at a daycare. There was an older lady with me in my room, ‘Miss Jenny’ we’ll call her. She’d always go on and on about how much she loved kids, and would fawn all over them, blah blah blah. She was cool, and we got along for the most part.
For a little while, we were short staffed, so some days we would be scheduled to work in different rooms. Miss Jenny got scheduled to work in the infant room and throws an absolute fit. She goes on and on about how she wasn’t hired to work with infants, how much she’s going to miss her ‘babies’ for that day, and it started to get a little weird. So, on this day that she’s working in the infant room, there’s suddenly a commotion from the front of the daycare. My room faces directly towards the front door, and I see one of the infant’s mother run in yelling about her baby. She disappeared for a few minutes, then rushed out with her baby. Come to find out- Miss Jenny had given this formula fed baby another baby's mother's milk. His mom had to come pick him up and take him to the hospital. All of the bottles were clearly labeled, so it was a pretty daft mix-up on her part. And her excuse was ‘you shouldn’t have scheduled me in the infant room.’ Amazingly she didn’t get fired.”
"One week we had this little boy start his very first time at daycare ever. He was a hot mess. That poor boy. He screamed all day every day, wouldn’t nap, would just scream. One day, my coworker tells me that I can take my lunch during nap, and she’ll get the kids to sleep on her own. This was odd, but whatever. After my break, I was scheduled to sit in a different room for a bit so I didn’t immediately return to my own room. Later when I returned, the kids had woken up from nap and the little boy is covered in what looks like a bunch of tiny scratches. My coworker tells me that he was so distraught during nap that he wouldn’t stop scratching and pinching himself. This behavior had never been expressed with us previously, so I was pretty worried about him, and went to the director to let her know what was going on. The director called his parents and they came to pick up their son, but the mother was frantic about his state: crying, covered in scratches and bruises. The little boy never came back after that day.
A few weeks later, I’m working at my other job at a pizza place and a detective comes in wanting to speak with me. Apparently, my coworker was the one that had given the little boy all of those bruises and scratches. She wasn’t the brightest woman though. She knew we had cameras in the rooms, but the dumb broad didn’t realize the cameras could see her as she was trying to pinch that poor boy to sleep under a blanket.
She was let go after that.”
“We sent my daughter to a daycare that was advertised as a center. She was our first kid and we didn’t have much money. And we also didn’t have any connections where we lived. So, honestly, we just didn’t know what to look for.
The place we went to was a center when we toured it, but when I dropped off our her on the first day, the center was closed because they were ‘moving,’ and all the other kids were at some lady's house down the street. I should have known better, but we were speaking with the same woman who gave us the tour. And during the tour when she said the center would be changing locations, I just went with it. So, later in the day I decided to leave work early to pick up my daughter, and just to see what was going on.
When I got to the house, the door was locked and all the windows were closed, but I could hear my daughter screaming bloody murder from where I was in the driveway. I pounded on the front door for a few minutes until they let me in. They acted like they didn't know why she was so fussy, (like she was a bad baby or something, when she was normally very happy and easy going). I started asking questions about what they had done with her the whole time, because it was clear she had been crying all day long.
Eventually they admitted she was scared when she first got there, and they didn't feel like holding her. So, they just strapped her in a seat and let her cry literally all day. My daughter never went back there.”
“My mother always said that my oldest brother was very wild and extremely hard to deal with at bedtime. Most of the time, my parents would resort to putting him in his car seat and driving him around the block to get him to finally fall asleep. She had two kids at an in-home daycare and because only my sister slept well, my mom always thought it was weird the babysitter (let's call her Pam) would say my brother napped well every time she would pick them up. My mom even joked about the lady being a miracle worker.
When my mom had her third child, she went on medical leave. But at the end of her leave, she went to Pam's house to introduce the new baby and finalize the return of the other two kids to daycare as well. When she was leaving the house, the neighbor, who happened to be good friends with Pam, stopped my mom in the driveway and told her she was concerned about the baby. She explained she was nervous that Pam might accidentally overdose the baby. Wait, what the-?!
Apparently, Pam was giving my brother children's cold medicine (the drowsy stuff) every day, without permission, to get him to fall asleep. We aren’t exactly sure what kind of medicine, but my mom obviously freaked, and called local authorities. But since Pam denied it, there was nothing my mom could really do because it was out of his system by then and no proof. My mom was so shaken she ended up switching her schedule to night/weekend shifts. And with her and my dad having opposite schedules, she could be at home during the day.”
"When I was about four years old, my mom left me with a woman who ran a small daycare in her home. She only took care of about four other kids, including my older brother. And we had been going to this daycare for a year or two at this point. So, we knew this woman pretty well, and even had her over for dinner a couple of times. But one day my mom picked my brother and I up from daycare and my hands were covered in blood. And when my mom asked what happened I couldn’t really say. The only thing I knew was that the babysitter's dog had bit me.
Concerned, my mom washed me off to see if the cuts were deep enough to need stitches, and decided to take me to the doctor to be safe. So, once we waiting at urgent care, the doctor asks my mom to come with him to the hall. When they left, a nurse came in and asked me if my mom or dad has ever hurt me. I was so confused and cried for my mom. Apparently, the doctor had to report it. It turns out they weren’t dog bites, they were human! My mom immediately called my dad who went straight to this woman’s house. My mom and I raced over there and called the cops. The woman was arrested for child abuse and they finally got the whole story from her.
She told them that I was being bad and had taken the remote from her daughter. So, she decided to punish me. For some reason, biting me six different times on my hands and fingers was an acceptable punishment for a four year old (for just grabbing a remote)!
I still have the scars."
"My older child was in a new daycare when he was about eight months old.
Only after three days of going to this daycare, he started to shake when getting ready, and then fight as we arrived. In addition, we started to notice that he was really listless after a day of being there. Initially, for the first week, we thought nothing of it. Until the following Tuesday, we noticed his urine was awfully concentrated, and he was beginning to develop sores. We also noticed his diaper was the same one we sent him with. And while we thought his diaper had not been changed on Monday, at the same time, we were unsure because we used a common/generic disposable diaper. So, the following day, we marked with a sharpie to be sure.
After that, we immediately withdrew him from the daycare. No questions, no reason given. And when I went back to collect our property (bottles, wipes, formula, onesies, birth certificate, insurance information, etc.) the daycare provider gave me trouble about returning our stuff. I warned the daycare provider not to give me a hard time about it, as I had come to settle our account and move on, but they did regardless. Once I was clear of the facility/house, I called child protective services and reported what my child had experienced.
I eventually found a new daycare provider through Child Protective Services. Interestingly enough, the new daycare provider was friends with our son's old one, and I found out that after a two week investigation, our previous daycare was shut down permanently due to irregularities in child care practices discovered."
“I toured a few daycares before we finally chose one. At one place, which was attached to a hospital, I was taken to the infant room and the three year old room, but just stood at the windows and didn’t go inside at first. When we arrived at the infant room, there are about six babies (all around 6 months old) and two women, probably in their 50s or 60s. One of the women scooped up one of the crying babies, but handled the child very aggressively. And it was harsh enough that I told the woman giving me the tour that the baby probably didn’t have enough neck control to be handled that way. She didn’t respond. Duly noted.
Meanwhile, in the same room, the other woman caught sight of us at the window and then gave the ‘we’ve got company’ eye to her colleague, who promptly started rocking the crying baby and speaking gently to her. Complete 180.
Fast forward to this year at work: a friend starts telling me about this horrible daycare where his daughter got ‘nanny arm.’ Apparently nanny arm is caused by being harshly yanked by the arm. The poor girl couldn’t move her arm. Of course, it was at the very same daycare. It is just awful that people can choose that career, but be so rotten to kids.”
"My daughter (3 years) took a toy from a boy (the same age) at her daycare. Afterwards, she was sat in a circle with all of the other kids, while the provider told everyone that she was a bully and a bad friend. The provider then took my daughter's juice cup and forced her best friend to drink it (even though her friend didn’t want to) to teach her what it was like for somebody to take something of hers.
And another thing, the same provider barely fed our ten month old. We would prepare a special formula to take to daycare for her to eat, and the provider would claim our daughter refused it. But for us, the little one would guzzle a whole bottle in minutes after picking her up at the end of the day. After noticing a pattern, an assistant at the daycare warned us that not only was our daughter not being fed, but the provider was taking the prepared formula out of the refrigerator after drop off because 'it took up too much space.' We wondered, 'Why did we leave our daughters there?' So, we stopped.
The day I got the call from the assistant I had a very firm talk with the provider. And I’m not a pleasant person when my daughter's health and welfare are concerned. And after that, we did not go back. I ended up reporting the provider to the state program that gave her assistance with delivering food and milk, and also filed a complaint with the state for the 'circle of shame.' The food program performed a surprise inspection the following Monday (we made the complaint on Friday), and found several violations. The assistant let me know that it was a very ugly scene.
The complaint to the state took longer, but finished well. Our complaint was upheld based on the circle, and also the forced sharing of the drink. They also cited her for sharing private information. Apparently she sent some details to other parents that she should not have. She did not get her license pulled, but was upset that the upheld complaint would show up if a prospective parent did a search on her license. She tried to go through the work to change the name of her daycare, only to realize that the complaint was tied to her license, and she couldn’t hide it by changing the name.
The saddest part, in my opinion, was that our daughter wanted to go back and visit her friends at the daycare. And to top it off, for several months after this our daughter would randomly say 'I’m a bully and not a good friend,' even to random people.
“There was a really old, old-fashioned, wooden merry-go-round at my daycare, where the older kids had a dare. They would compete to see which one could hold on the longest while the others made it spin faster and faster. Unaware of the situation, I climbed on. As it was gaining speed, I was trying to hold on for dear life, but unfortunately the merry-go-round gave up before I did. The plank I was sitting on snapped. I flew in the air several feet before landing high above the ground on a tree. I bounced off, fell on the ground and passed out.
I woke up in the infirmary, where I was told everything was ok, I was fine and there was no need to mention this to my parents because 'then the playground will close, and you won't be able to play there any more, and all the kids will be angry with you and we can't look after you all the time.' I kept my mouth shut but the pain was unbearable, and of course my parents noticed my severe limping. Turns out I had a broken kneecap, stayed in a cast for what felt like years, and the daycare got served with a nice lawsuit soon after.”
"I was in childcare for six years. At one daycare, a nineteen year old was 'lead teacher' in the two year old room, and everyone had commented on how quiet she kept the kids. But I was put in as assistant and quickly saw she was scaring the living day out of the kids and jerking them around.
One day, a toddler was lining up for lunch against the wall and accidently bumped another child, who bumped into the wall. This girl strode across the room, took that baby by both of his ears, and smacked his head against the cinder block wall. He screamed, I yelled.
Seeing red, I immediately went for her. But amidst my rage, hearing this toddler scream (let alone my name), I broke, and scooped him up into my arms, instead of punching her. I ran to the director's office, both me and the child sobbing, and me demanding, 'She's gone. You better get her out of my sight!' The director called her in and asked if she'd done that, and she said yes, 'to show him what it felt like.' She was fired on the spot."
“We interviewed a lady that had an in-home daycare. She advertised accomodations like ‘organic meals,’ ‘Montessori setting,’ and all that. So, I called and set up a time to meet, and see her place. But when we get there (on the scheduled day at the scheduled time), she answered the door in her pajamas, looking like she just rolled out of bed. She was a mess. No big deal, though, I guess. - She does work from home after all.
So, anyway, as we head to the kitchen, I look to my left and see a bunch of stuff in another room stacked to the ceiling, and I mean, a lot of random stuff - like hoarder level type junk. Then, I looked to my right, and there were children literally corralled into a living room, watching cartoons. Most of them were only half-dressed, which was fine, but she advertised that she didn’t let the kids watch television. So, I was a bit confused, not to mention, I was also curious as to where all these children’s clothes were.
The kitchen itself was pretty messy. But she explained that they just had breakfast, so I let that slide, and asked, ‘What do they have for meals?’ She showed me a menu- all processed stuff. Again, not what was advertised. She started to come across as really disingenuous, like it was some sort of trap. But it really wasn’t a big deal to have all organic food or a certain type of curriculum, but that’s what she said she offered. So, that’s what we expected. But since we felt like something was really off about the place, we quickly left and decided to look elsewhere.
A month later she was busted for using and dealing illegal substances out of her house.”
“Got a call to come pick up my kids at a neighbor’s house, because there was a crib death at my daycare provider’s home.
To begin, daycare in our small town wasn't so great, but before moving to an at-home daycare, my kids started out in a group daycare. One day, when I went to pick them up, I found out that daycare owed back taxes and had their accounts frozen, and they immediately closed as of that day. So, then there were 50 plus kids in a small town without daycare, and to top it off, there were no licensed daycares with open spots for our two kids. Our youngest could go to daycare in the town we worked in, but the oldest was in kindergarten and had to do daycare where he could be bused.
Eventually, one of the caregivers from the group daycare told us she was going to open her own in-home daycare. We figured she was good and knew what she was doing because she had already worked in daycare. And she was licensed for group care and had passed background checks. But having nowhere else to take our children, we took them to her while she was getting licensed.
Later, we found out it would take her a month to get licensed for at-home daycare. As the month came to a close, only three days before she was to get licensed, her neighbor called Department of Child Family Services on her for operating an illegal daycare. She was forced to close and was convicted of a crime. She had a baby napping on a bed surrounded by pillows. The baby either flipped and suffocated, or wedged herself between the mattress and the pillows. When we took our youngest there, we would leave a portable playpen for him to sleep in. And once he got old enough, we actually sold the daycare the used playpen for the next infant that needed it. I assumed they had gotten another when the second infant started, but apparently they didn't."