How daycares can keep technology from being a distraction to workers

DEWITT, Iowa -- Distracted driving, distracted walking, and other technology-related distractions have become buzzwords in modern society.  But what about distracted daycare workers?

Technology is everywhere, but for Kid's Business Inc. in DeWitt, Iowa, it's a matter that they take very seriously.

"Supervision is so important," said Tricia Ludrof, Director of Kid's Business, Inc. in DeWitt Iowa. "When you are a teacher and you have a room full of children, the moment you turn your back something can easily happen and there's no reason for our cell phones."

In Iowa, the Department of Human Resources has received technology-related complaints about eight licensed daycares in the News 8 viewing area since 2016.  The complaints alleged that supervision was lacking because of distractions caused by mobile technology.  Three of those complaints resulted in violations.

One of the citations was in regards to an incident at a daycare in Eldridge, Iowa.  The daycare was  cited after a child was dropped while an employee was simultaneously trying to hold a tablet, according to a DHS report.  That employee no longer works at the center.

Click here to read complaint reports in Iowa. 

Click here to see if Illinois daycares have violations. 

"The use of electronics while actively caring for children may inhibit staff ability to effectively supervise and ensure safety..." read a statement from the Iowa DHS.

A DHS spokesperson said that while there are no specific requirements as to how individual daycare centers handle the use of mobile technology, each center must have a policy in place.

As for Kid's Business in DeWitt, Iowa, the policy is simple: the phones stay away.

"If you have your phone... that kind of distracts you from other things and the kids deserve that undivided attention," said Ludrof.

The rule at Kid's Business is to keep their cell phones locked up. Workers are not allowed to have their phones out while working in the classroom.  She said each staff member was required to sign the employee handbook saying they understood this rule.

"I'm really proud of my staff," she said. "They understand the importance of supervision and you can't be on your phone and supervise the kids, so it's very important here."

Staff is, however, allowed to take a phone in case of emergencies when they leave the facility, at times when they're taking kids on a field trip or going for a walk.

While personal cell phones are a non-negotiable at Kid's Business, technology is incorporated in the daily routine.  Each classroom has a tablet.  In one of the rooms, the children were singing along and dancing to music.

"It's a way to bring technology into the center," said staff member Samantha Dierksen, "since technology is the world we live in, and they really enjoy it."

And the policies allow daycares to introduce technology into the classrooms, while keeping an eye on the future generation.