Is it appropriate for an adult to take a child off daycare property?


Dear Stop It Now!,

I observed an adult alone with a child. Is it appropriate for a lone adult to take a lone child in a stroller off the grounds of a day care center? This is something I witnessed.

Please share your feedback

Dear Concerned Onlooker,

I'm so glad that you're asking these questions when you see something that makes you feel uneasy, as that is so vital in preventing abuse.

Speaking Up
It certainly can be concerning to see a child being taken off daycare property, especially if this adult is not the child’s primary caregiver (like a mother or father) and there is no emergency that would cause them to deem this appropriate (like a medical injury requiring a visit to the doctor - with an approved adult). A good first step would be to follow up with this daycare and ask them specifically about this incident, and if they’re aware that this occurred. It is always ok to ask questions when concerned and this may help you become better informed as to what next steps to take.

Talking About Policies
It is important that every daycare and school have guidelines to protect the youth in their care, the teachers serving them, and a well-defined set of behavioral expectations for both children and adults. Having clear, established policies like this makes it easier to address any unsafe behavior if it were to occur, and helps protect the children they serve.

I would encourage you to ask about this daycare’s specific policies around staff-student conduct, including whether (if ever) someone other than a primary caregiver with prior authorization can take a child off daycare property. Also, what about staff-student ratios? Is there a rule of two (meaning that one child is never left alone with one adult)? As I’m unsure whether you’re a parent, a concerned member of the community, or a member of this staff, I’ve included two tip sheets below that may help you address these concerns with this daycare specifically.

Next Steps
This daycare’s response may help you decide how to proceed. It may be that this program already has a strict set of guidelines in place to respond to this kind of unsafe behavior, or it could be that this may show the administration a hole in their prevention policies. If this youth-serving institution did need to clarify their codes of conduct, please feel free to pass along our Prevention for Organizations resource guide. If you are a parent or primary caregiver to this child, this may help you decide whether or not this setting was one where your child were protected. Hopefully this organization is willing to take steps to safeguard the children in their charge through well thought out rules, and clear follow-up when unsafe behavior is recognized. However, a child’s safety always comes first so I encourage you to trust your gut. That is so important.

I hope this information has been helpful, and I truly appreciate you reaching out to us on behalf of this child’s safety. If you have any further questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us again.

Take care,
Stop It Now!


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Last edited on: August 8th, 2018