Day Care Workers’
Top 10 Peeves with Parents

by Vivian McEady-Lindsey

What if day care workers and owners could sound off to parents? What would be their biggest complaints? To find out, we talked to day care staff around the Delaware Valley.
“We hear the complaints, but we never hear any compliments,” says Nancy B., a worker at a Philadelphia day care center. Now the tables are turned. Here are day care workers’ top ten gripes.
1. Being paid late or not at all. “We rely on the parents to pay so that we can pay our workers. When the parents don’t pay, we can’t pay our workers,” says Martina J., a day care owner in South Jersey.
2. Parents who pick up their children late. “Children get worried when their parents pick up late, and we have families of our own that we must cook for, get ready for bed, etc.,” says Patricia W., a Philadelphia day care worker.
“We must pay our workers overtime when parents come late, which eventually causes our fee to go up,” says Teresa B., a day care center owner in Wilmington, DE.
3. Parents who put designer clothes on their children and expect them not to get dirty. “Children who are learning and having fun get dirty,” says Julia M. a Lindenwold, NJ worker says. “Parents should dress their children in their play clothes.”
4. Parents who don’t provide enough supplies, such as disposable diapers, bottles or change-of-clothes. “It’s hard when they don’t bring enough stuff and when you charge them for it, they get mad,” says a day care owner from South Jersey.
5. Parents who can’t understand how their children can get hurt at a day care center. “Children get hurt sometimes, even when they’re supervised. It happens. Parents should be more understanding,” says Terri S. of a Stratford, NJ day care center.
“Every parent should have to come to their child’s day care center for one day, so they can see how their child got scratched, let’s say,” says Keisha N., a teacher of an after-school group, in Philadelphia.
6. Parents who think their children are potty-trained, but they’re really not. “Parents want to stop buying Pull-ups, because they can’t afford them, so they tell us that their children are potty-trained at home,” says Camela R., of a Willingboro, NJ center.
7. Parents who want discounts. “Our fees are set so that we can give the best care to our children and pay our workers a fair wage,” says Norma B., a South Jersey day care owner. “We can’t give extra discounts over the discount we give for having more than one child at the center,” a Sicklerville, NJ day care owner says.
8. Parents who think that the center is responsible for everything. “They want us to take care of the gold earrings they put on their children, they want us to pay for their field trips, they want us to buy them lunch, (even though our center doesn’t serve lunch), they want us to do everything but tuck their kids in at night,” says Carolyn W., a worker from a Sussex, DE center.
“A lot of the parents seem to care a lot and take interest in their kids’ lives for the most part, but sometimes you have the parents who don’t participate or pay for anything, then you have to deal with the children crying and broken-hearted because they can’t take a trip or participate in a party,” says Janna J., associate director of a Lindenwold, NJ center.
9. Parents who don’t pay attention to newsletters, notes and posted notices. “Often we announce trips, closings, price increases, important items in our communications and some parents don’t read them,” a South Jersey worker, Paula L. says.
10. Parents who don’t teach their child the basics. “We teach the children and prepare them for kindergarten, but three-year-olds should come in with some basic concepts, such as knowing the alphabet song, knowing their colors or knowing their full names. It seems as though some parents never have a conversation with their children,” says Tamara L., a worker from a Pennsauken, NJ center.

Plaudits for Parents
You’ve read the complaints. Now it’s time for a little love. The day care workers say the large majority of parents are caring and well-meaning. Anna B., who works at a south Jersey center, says, “I’m pretty close with my parents. They’re pretty cooperative. If I have any concerns, the parents are good about addressing them.”
Many spoke of their enjoyment working with kids. “I love my children and I love my job,” says Maria F. of a Lindenwold, NJ center. “I love taking care of children,” says Donna L., from a center in Philadelphia.
“Working with kids is a humbling, but enlightening experience,” says a Sicklerville, NJ day care director. “Humbling because they bring you down to their level, enlightening because they look upon the
world in a more ‘pure’ way; they see things more optimistically.”

Vivian McEady-Lindsey is a local freelance writer.