Tips for choosing a daycare

SPOKANE, Wash. - SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash - Child Protective Services is currently investigating how two 3-year-old's escaped from the Little Learner Child Development Center in Spokane Valley. The toddlers walked along busy University road before they were spotted by nursing home employees next door, and brought to safety.

Crystal Morlan is thankful nothing more serious happened to her 3-year-old, Axel.

"I understand we all make mistakes, but this could have lead to the life or death of my child, and I'm a little less understanding," Morlan said.

Child Protective Services is investigating the incident, along with the Department of Early Learning - a state organization that oversees and grants licenses to 6,000 day cares across Washington. They also document complaints.

"When we get a complaint, about a provider, we are bound by law to investigate," said Frank Ordway, assistant director at the Department of Early Learning.

According to the department's website, the day care in question has received nine complaints since 2011. The majority are related to supervision, and discipline. Ordway says given the size of the daycare, nine complaints isn't too alarming.

"Given the fact that this particular center had the licensed capacity of well over 100 kids, nine complaints over that course of time, none of them seem severe, and none of them would raise a red flag for us," Ordway noted. 

KXLY reached out to the daycare but they declined our request for an interview on Tuesday.

DEL couldn't comment on the current investigation, but Ordway says he's glad the toddler ended up okay.

"We're happy everybody is safe, we're working closely with the provider to see what the results of the other investigation are," Ordway said.  

Choosing the right day care can be overwhelming, but DEL has information online for making an informed decision. Ordway says it's important for parents to consider a few things.

"Just as any parent would, just make sure you're looking and seeing the kinds of things that you think indicate health, safety, and a loving environment," said Ordway. "How does the center react to children when they're not feeling well, how they react when they're crying?"

DEL strongly recommends parents select form state licensed day cares.

"I think it's really important for parents to look and ensure that their providers are licensed, because when a provider is licensed you know they've gone through an appropriate background check, and trained on all the basics of health and safety," Ordway said.

If a licensed day care has formal complaints, parents can find those records on the DEL website.

Ordway said parents should always be mindful of red flags.

"Any inconsistencies. If you're coming in to drop your child off and you're not being asked to sign in or sign out at a center. if you look in and see 16 kids with one adult, you want to be paying attention to what the ratios are there."