How parents can make sure they aren’t sending their children to an illegal daycare

“It was a place I would not have even taken my dog to,” Ramirez said.
How parents can make sure they aren’t sending their children to an illegal daycare
Published: May. 25, 2023 at 6:24 PM EDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - As the school year ends and summer begins, many parents are looking for someone to watch their kids. But how do you know the person you hire is trustworthy and you aren’t sending your kids to an illegal unlicensed daycare?

The Tennessee Department of Human Services says an illegal unlicensed daycare is when five or more unrelated children are together for three or more hours with a caregiver who doesn’t have a license.

An illegal day was discovered after a three-month-old baby was found at an apartment complex in Bellevue last month.

It’s an incident a neighbor, Lelma Ramirez, would like to forget.

“It was a place I would not have even taken my dog to,” Ramirez said.

Metro Nashville Police Department said 51-year-old Anne Jordan lived in the apartment and ran the illegal daycare. Jordan cared for seven babies at one time when the three-month-old was found dead.

Ramirez, a nanny herself, says the situation is appalling.

“There is no price for your child, you get what you pay for,” she said.

“The most important thing whenever you are considering any level of childcare is to trust your intuition,” Rachel Adkins, owner of the Nashville Nanny Agency said.

She knows childcare is expensive and people are on waitlists. Her agency tries to find the best nanny for a family or even a “nanny share.” That’s where two families have the same nanny watch their kids at one time.

“A lot of times I’m the first person people call,” Adkins said. “I find out before their family members like ‘I just found out I’m pregnant.’”

She tells parents to be their own private investigators. Ask about experience, references, and look for gaps in employment.

“You can kind of grill them, you can even get on Google and just see what kind of questions should I be asking a childcare provider,” Adkins suggested.

She tells parents to show up regularly unannounced to make the caregiver feel a bit uncomfortable at times. She even suggests parents put a camera in their homes or the caregiver’s home.

“If they are really great people and they love what they are doing they are going to be totally fine with having a camera,” Adkins said.

She said every parent, at the very least, should do a background check and get fingerprints.

Ramirez said that’s normal in the three states she’s lived in.

“I’ve been fingerprinted, and background checked in all three states in order for me to work here and I’m fine with it,” she said. “I have nothing to hide.”

She knows her job is important and one she doesn’t take for granted.

“If I can give one little child the tools to go into kindergarten, to be socially and emotionally ready, then I’ve done my job,” Ramirez said. “That place was not that place.”

For a list of licensed daycares in Tennessee, parents can go to the DHS website.