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Friday, January 27, 2012

Wanted?




A couple of days ago I got an email from the daycare that said this:
"Leslie, Jim,
The mornings are becoming a very bad experience for the children in our care with Lily. She is hitting, spitting, and grabbing continually. I am not able to afford to have one staff member caring for her alone. My staff feels that Lily needs one on one care at this point. I know she is being observed this week, but I'm not certain of scenarios that could work. Please think about it, and would you like to meet with me soon to discuss possibilities?
Appreciated,
J---"
What went through my mind was, "they're going to try to kick her out of daycare." I was instantly on alert, instantly imagining my defense, instantly anticipating the ways in which the daycare was going to justify kicking my little girl out of their facility. I started searching through Department of Welfare (which governs daycares in PA) websites and Pennsylvania law sites, and ADA questions and answers. And then, assuming the worst, but hoping for the best, I responded:
"I'm not certain what you're talking about. This is the first I've heard of any problems. Has this been going on long? What are you suggesting? What steps have already been taken?
I don't agree that Lily requires one on one attention. She absolutely requires the attention of staff, and the understanding of her behaviors, but not one on one.

Can you explain a little about what your expectations are for staff at morning drop off (not just with regard to Lily, but with all the students)? I'd be curious to see if my observations of what goes on dovetails with your expectations for the kids' care.
Additionally, please let me know what your path forward is.
Thanks,
Jim"
The way I saw it, she was preparing to meet with us to explain why she didn't feel her daycare was the best fit for Lily, or the other kids, for that matter. What I had read suggested that she was required by law to make 'reasonable accommodations' for a special needs child. There had been no written documentation of any issues, though we were aware some of the staff had complained about the spitting. If there had been hitting, we'd received no accident or incident reports to sign (which is procedure).

The daycare staff can be. . . inattentive. I wanted her to lay it out there. I wanted to know what it was the staff was expected to do, because having dropped Lily off to the "before care" program for the past six months I was pretty sure I knew they weren't doing it.

That is my biggest problem. Lily can be a hand full, for sure. But she's a hand full that the daycare has been dealing with for the past two years. They know her. And while I don't agree that she requires one on one attention, I do know that the staff needs to. . . how shall I put this delicately. . . get off their dead asses and attend to her (and the other students') needs.

We exchanged a couple more emails. The response I got this time seemed even more ominous to me:

"Jim,
Let's just meet. Friday afternoon? Let me know if that works for you two.
~J---"
To me, that was the equivalent of saying. . . "I have bad news, and it's best that I deliver it in person." But that was me, planning for the worst and hoping for the best. I sent her an email arranging for a 6 o'clock meeting, and prompting her as to an agenda, whether she needed us to bring anything, and whether it would be just her.

She responded without the agenda, indicated it would just be her, and asked if there was anyone from staff we wanted to see.

This made me feel better. J--- is not the most sophisticated daycare director. I feel fairly confident that if she was approaching a family with a special needs child and informing them that they were booted, she'd bring someone with a little more gravitas. Maybe that's wishful thinking on my part, but if it's just her. . . I feel like "we got this".

My wife gets limited free legal consultation as a benefit at work. I had her contact an attorney to talk out our position prior to the meeting. The attorney seems to have been less than useless. She had a difficult time understanding our situation, and spent most of the time playing devil's advocate, explaining the daycare's position, rather than explaining our rights in this circumstance.

I feel like I'm as prepared as I need to be for this meeting. I've armed myself with enough information to feel like we can't be kicked out without at least the daycare making an attempt to solve the problem, and we have a couple potential options to explore.

As for our "rights", at first blush it appears that the daycare's ability to kick us out hinges primarily on two things: 1) whether Lily's attendance represents a threat to the safety of staff or the other children (if that's their case, they have not documented it to us, so I feel confident their. Even with documentation, Lily's biting, or pushing has historically been limited to cases where her hand is being grabbed and she's being compelled to go someplace with someone, or someone is getting too close to her face and she feels threatened. She has never gone out of her way to hurt someone.) or 2) whether Lily's attendance requires an unreasonable accomodation (hiring of dedicated staff, purchase of expensive equipment, etc). J--- might suggest that because she cannot hire an additional staff member to provide Lily with one on one, that means Lily has to go. My argument is that she does not need one on one, just less inattention on the part of staff.

The icky part of all this is that if in fact they want her out, and I fight the good fight, and lawyer up, and make things hard on them, and they take her back. . . what are the consequences for Lily? Nobody would ever do anything to get back at us through Lily, right? Right?? Is this the proverbial, sending food back to the kitchen and getting spit in your soup? If we have to fight to keep Lily in this daycare. . . do we ever want to keep Lily in this daycare?

Regardless I feel like there's some bargaining room here. I'm less stressed. I may leave this 6 o'clock meeting a total basket case, but I feel pretty good going in right now. We also talked to our wrap provider to see whether a TSS could be assigned to Lily for the brief time she's in the before school program, and for the brief time after kindergarten when she's in the after school program. If that's the case, J---- will get her one on one, and not even have to hire her. But we're still looking at that.

Regardless, we'll figure something out, and if it is the worst, well then we're prepared, and if it is the best. . . well that's just gravy.

57 comments:

  1. Good luck at your meeting! Hopefully you will come to a mutually beneficial arrangement. I used to feel the same way about our daycare staff when they would complain about Tate's behavior in the afternoon. If the caregivers were, um, doing their jobs, Tate's needs would not have been an issue...

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  2. ((Hugs)) Good luck at the meeting.
    Jenn

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  3. I had my boys in daycare for 1 year after my divorce from their dad and it was really NOT the best place for them. I ended up removing them suddenly when I found out the daycare provider was buckling them into car seats which were tied to the couch for long periods of time.

    I hope you are both able to get the answers you need and start up a dialogue about what is best for Lily.

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    1. Thank goodness they were tied to the couch! Just kidding, that's an awful, awful thing, Sunday.

      Good luck, Jim!

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  4. I hope that you get some answers - and that they are in Lily's best interests. I know it's not that easy to just pick up and leave, even in the best of circumstances, but if they aren't going to treat your daughter right, they don't deserve the pleasure of knowing her.

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    1. Yeah, we'll probably look for alternatives if they really want to boot her. Her big sister goes there too, so it would be a relatively major change.

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  5. You and Leslie are good parents, (like I need to say it), and will do fine today. I will be thinking of you this afternoon. I find it funny? sad? infuriating? insane? that Lily may be considered a "threat to the safety of staff or other children".. ridiculous. Love you guys!

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    1. she's bitten staff, I don't know if they'll consider that a "threat". But to be fair. . . they were ASKIN' for it.

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  6. Oh and b.c I know you will love this, that stupid password to post thingy said WRING. Like, WRING their neck.

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    1. Nice! I'll keep that option in the back of my head.

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  7. I'm going to hope for the old "things you worry about most never happen." After all, it seems that you've one more than your fair share of worrying.

    Good luck.

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  8. Oh gosh...good luck at the meeting. I've been in this position before. My son lasted one day at a after school day care. But if Lily's been there for 2 years? Why now? And if you've never been informed of any incidents. I don't think it's right if they want to kick her out.

    Hope they are willing to work with you!

    ~Lisa

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    1. Yeah, I tend to agree. Maybe I'm getting all worked up over nothing. It might just be that she wants ideas about how to better care for Lily. If so, we've got 'em.

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  9. Good luck at the meeting. I know exactly how you feel. N-Zilla was in daycare for a year and it didn't go well. I never got any documentation either...only the teacher (when she was there) would tell me what a nuisance N-zilla was becoming.
    I totally feel for you. But it sounds like Lily has a good team on her side. Good luck again to you and Mrs. Jim

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  10. There absolutely would be a record if she did anything aggressive towards someone. If there is not then either they are 1)lying or 2)breaking the law by not doing the reporting sheets. It's not like she is there all day. I can't understand how they have so much trouble just before/after school. Frankly, it sounds like they just want to be left alone by older kids, probably, and don't like that she needs any attention, period. Hopefully it doesn't go too badly...

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    1. That's kinda what I was thinking.

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  11. I've been in this position myself. Summer camp last year was HELL.

    I hope your director will listen to you and work with you. Ours did, but I was never so glad to see school start in my life.

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    1. She's going to do extended school year. . . but that's not long, and not for the whole day. Not sure HOW the summer will work, but she's probably not going to daycare this summer (like she did last summer)

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  12. Good luck. I hate that feeling, the one where someone says, "sit down...." Uggghh. I hope it's nothing but it does bring up red flags---that they don't want anything in writing and prefer to talk. I'd be documenting the heck out of that meeting. They've not documented past issues/concerns they have with L as well. It's not OK to call out of the blue and now tell you there's a problem. Good luck, I'll be thinking of you.

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    1. yeah, it's like "we need to talk".

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  13. I'm really really really hoping that this won't be as bad as you're preparing for. Nonetheless, I'm glad you're prepared. I would be, too. And I can understand why you'd immediately be on the defense as well.

    My fingers and toes are crossed (except when I'm typing or walking... I like you guys but I'm not crazy...)!

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    1. i've tried that. . . it's not pretty. Thanks.

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  14. My son (now 9), over the course of his life, has hit kicked, bit, every person that has surrounded him. There were several daycares, some better than others...we finally came to the realization that he needed some extra hands (to support the entire room-not just him...as the one teacher could not e everywhere). In most cases, the best daycares for him were the ones that wanted him to have extra hands-it showed that they had his, as well as the entire class' best interest. The ones that stated 'this isn't the right place for him', without even trying, were not interested in his well being and it wasn't even worth our time fighting with them, because ultimately, if they didn't want him there, then neither did we. I hope this has a good ending for you., it's so incredibly frustrating and heart breaking that our kids have to go thru this (and the parents too)!!! That's the end of my short story!!!' haha. To make a long one short, good luck!' Kate wells

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    1. Thanks, Kate! I like the short story comments.

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  15. I hope the meeting goes well, Jim. And I know there will be a lot of other people hoping that for you too.

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  16. I hope your meeting went well. Everything about that sucks.

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  17. Except the very cute wanted poster, of course.

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  18. Sorry I'm so late. I hope it went well. I have no pithy stories and no helpful advice, just I adore you and your whole family and boo, daycare lady, you should be HAPPY to have Lily there!

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  19. I too am very late. I truly have to figure out the RSS - wait - what's that below? I can subscribe by email?! Done. You're probably blogging about the meeting now.

    Given that this is kind of a hot topic I needed to wish you luck a few hours ago - I feel like I'm wishing you a belated birthday (btw - Happy Birthday whenever it may next be so I'm early...) but here is my thought:

    Change is hard for our kids. It's also hard for us. We get to feeling safe for our kids when they have a good routine that meet our needs as an added bonus. It sounds like you were good and settled in that daycare what with Emma at the same place? Now that the gauntlet has been thrown so to speak, even if you work it out, I'm thinking it's not going to be the same anymore because some level of trust has been eroded.

    Don't spin your wheels looking for legal rights (the benefit of a free consult is B.S. - they look for lawyers to hook up to these networks and the lawyers that do it are usually crappy - imo). You know in your heart and by instinct, what will be right for your girls. Start looking for something new. Even if you stay - look for a Plan B - it's always good for your stress level to have a Plan B...

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    1. you gave me way to much credit. The meeting was over. . . then after dinner with my wife, i found myself sick as death for the next two days and I'm still recovering today. . . but I'll blog today regardless.

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  20. Oh phooey - that just subscribed me to follow up comments - not new posts. I follow by Google Connect but I don't really get that... RSS it is... :(

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  21. Did the meeting go okay?

    This reminds me of what we went through when Tommy was in Kindergarten. He would have total and complete meltdowns and had to be sent to the nurses office so he could calm down. I'd get phone calls daily, have to sit in meetings practically every week to figure out what would work. I thought he'd be kicked out of school.

    What happened was that he just went to school half a day and that seemed to help. I guess it was too much stimulation. Granted, I know it's a different situation then what you are in but I just wanted you to know that you aren't alone in worrying and such. It's not easy.

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  22. Can't wait to hear how things turned out. If things go badly, I can help you make the daycare's life a living Hell. I used to run a school age care program. :) Hopefully though, and it kind of sounded like it, they want to explore some other options. And, like you said, there has been no documentation of any issues, so that is in your favor.

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    1. *adds you to list of "resources to make lives hell"*

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  23. We had that happen once. A school wanted to boot Tommy for his behaviors. I fought it hard. They just found another reason to boot us down the road. I was in denial. I wanted it to be a good fit so badly.. but it wasn't a good fit. Meh, shit happens. You just do the best you can to try and stay a few steps ahead and what happens happens. I hope this works out soon for you guys.

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    1. thanks, rhonda. i know we're sorta following you down the path you already left.

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  24. Jim and family - wishing the very, very best outcome for you and Lilly, whatever that may be. We, like most folks here, have had our fights with daycare, too. In the end, we actually hired our OWN one-on-one to attend to Ted. The difference of course being that HE actually needs a one-on-one.

    Thinking of you all.

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    1. I'm not saying she wouldn't benefit from it. . . but she's only there for an hour in the morning and a half hour in the evening.

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  25. I hope it went well, sounds like a tricky situation. Nothing you guys can't handle, though!

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  26. Hope everything went well... but a one on one care in playschool increases learning opportunities a lot.
    She looks absolutely too cute for that wanted sign :) and that flower...

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    1. They really don't have any kind of structured teaching going on there. It's just a dumping ground for kids waiting to get on the bus to school. We'll see. . .

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  27. My son was kicked out of three daycares by the time he was 3 (the last on his first day) - and two after school programs, and one summer Y program (where the director called him 'retarded').

    He did much better in a home daycare environment. Less kids, less noise, more, well, homey.

    He's 16 now, I'd have thought that people would be more aware and educated about dealing with autism than they were back then.

    If you have an intensive case manager, they may be able to help you find a better situation (if this one doesn't work out).

    I know that my son felt that he was a "bad" kid after all these difficulties.

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    1. I think SOME people are. this little daycare isn't though.

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