Day care center workers attending part of a two-day symposium on child care last week were told the types of behavior to watch for in children who have been physically, emotionally or sexually abused at home.
"When you have a child who is normally outgoing and friendly and all of a sudden, for no apparent reason, the child becomes withdrawn and repressed, that should trigger a flag in your mind. It might be worth a telephone call to the home to see what's going on," Ronald Snead, of the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, told the 20 men and women who attended the workshop he headed.
He said that overburdened parents sometimes lash out at their children. He added that day care centers can help prevent abuse that might stem from this kind of frustration by making emergency or crisis slots available.
The theme of the symposium, held in the Mayflower Hotel, was "Staff Training: The Foundation for Quality Day Care." The general meetings and workshops covered a broad range of issues such as day care legislation and policies, designing day care programs, working with handicapped children, providing good nurition, working with single parents and meeting state licensing requirements.
About 200 persons attended the gathering, which was sponsored by the Howard University Department of Human Ecology and the Disrict of Columbia Department of Human Resources (DHR).
At the workshop on "Parent Involvement," one of the most well-attended, day care workers discussed the benefits of encouraging parents to participate in daily activities and policy making decisions at centers.
"The child in a day care center or nursery school is best served when the parent and care-giver become members of a team to nurture and enhance growth and development," said Dr. Beverly Jackson, who chaired the work-shop and is co-chairman of the Washington Association for the Education of Young Children.
Jackson advocated home visits by day care workers as an important way to develop communication among center personnel, parents and children.
Participants in the workshop said that picnics, outings and dinner meetings help interest parents in the day care program and give them opportunities to meet parents of their children's friends.
A theme that ran through all of the sessions was the high cost of quality care. The District requires day care centers to hire educated and well-trained teachers, and that takes money, noted Theresa Roberts of the DHR Licensing and Certification Division.
Virginia, Clark, social science adviser at the U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau, said quality day care is the "most luxurious necessity a parent faces. Costs are high for supervision and development, but as a working parent, I appreciate that my child, who attends the Department of Labor day care center, has a good, safe place to stay and grow."
The symposium was the culmination of a contract between Howard and DHR under which the university offered a course for employes of centers licensed to care for children whose parents are eligible for federal day care subsidies. The 450 workers who attended the course, designed to give them the training required by federal and local regulations, received college credit for their efforts.
The symposium last week was "a natural extension of that course," said Ura Jean Oyamade, director of Day Care Services Training Project for Howard and acting administrator for the School of Human Ecology.
"Since that special training course was not available to all day care personnel in the District, we decided to sponsor this special training symposium, which focused on day care issues and policy and to offer it to all interested individuals."
The 200 day care workers who attended the three general sessions and three of the 15 workshops in the symposium will receive certificates, however, have no direct bearing on licensing and certification requirements.
Day care worker Earline Roberts, director of the Galilee Child Development Center in the District, said she attended the symposium because, "I like to keep in gear about what's going on in early childhood development because I want to keep my day care center up to today's standards of quality care."
"You can never know enough. There's always so much more to learn about children," said Pearlif Brown of the Golden Rule Day Care Center."