• Mon, Mar 31 - 5:00 pm ET

10 Of The Worst Daycare Reviews You’ll Ever Find On Yelp

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Daycare reviews and references are kind of a big deal since your kid’s life is at stake. Any good parent will take a moment to research a facility before dropping their kid off with perfect strangers. It just makes sense.

If you’ve already started your daycare research, what you find might scare you. Not to worry—the very worst daycare reviews out there aren’t necessarily reflective of the average daycare center. In fact, my husband and I were able to find an amazing in-home daycare provider for my son who goes above and beyond at an affordable price. I made sure to give her a good review on Google to put some positive Internet karma out there. I also wanted her to know that she does an amazing job, and we appreciate her very much.

Part of the daycare review process is to know what not to look for. But reading reviews always leaves you between a rock and a hard place. Can you really believe the reviewer, or were they just mad because things didn’t go their way? Is a daycare truly a horrible, unsanitary place, or was a parent in a bad mood because they didn’t like how their special snowflake was treated?

These worst of the worst Yelp reviews are undeniably bad. Take these terrible reviews as a giant warning and red flag as you search for a safe, respectable daycare for your kid:

1. Very, Very Poorly Rated Teachers.

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2. Super Suspicious High Pressure Sales Tactics.

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3. It Just Smells Bad.

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4. Reports Of Child Abuse.

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5. Flat Out Refusal Of Special Needs.

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6. No Concept Of Childproofing.

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7. Daycare Dictator Is More Like It.

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8. A Pathetic Attempt At Customer Service.

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9. Just The Worst.

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10. Perfect For Parents Who Hate Their Kids.

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(Image: fasphotographic/Shutterstock)

You can reach this post's author, Bethany Ramos, on twitter.
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  • TwentiSomething Mom

    I don’t get why #1 had her child there from 18 months to 5 years old if it was that bad. I’m sure it may be a budgetary concern or hours which can be frustrating but I can’t imagine having my child in a poor environment like that for so long.

  • kendra

    So, I actually didn’t research reviews and such before choosing our daycare. She is an in-home daycare in our area, which is very small anyone. I went to school with her kids, and they were well-adjusted, so I figured it was worth a try. Hindsight, I probably could’ve done more research, but it worked out in my favor anyways because I think she is phenomenal. Yay for a lazy parenting win!

    • kendra

      anyway* not anyone…geesh..

    • Bethany Ramos

      We didn’t research too hard and ended up using the only/best choice in our area after interviewing her. Win!

    • Kendra

      Yeah, this is such a small area, we only had a handful of options to begin with. Both of the ladies that I knew personally were already full, so she was my third call. We did go for an interview. She had a lot of animals, which might freak a lot of parents out, but me being my animal loving self, it really helped “sell” me on using her.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Our provider has animals and never mentioned them! Luckily, we don’t care. Plus, she is great. :)

    • kendra

      When we went out for the interview, they all kind of rushed the car. She had 6 dogs at that time.

    • jsterling93

      But this means you “knew” her to some degree and she wasn’t a complete stranger. Reviews are helpful if you honestly know nothing abut the person you plan to have watch your child. I wouldn’t say you need to read reviews for someone you knew already.

    • kendra

      That is true. I knew of her, but had never met her. My MIL had gone to school with her growing up though, and also raised her children along side her with the ballgames and stuff like that. She didn’t have anything bad to say so I figured it was ok. And also, one of her sons had a crush on me in school so obviously there was good taste in the genes. ;)

    • jsterling93

      See what better review could you ask for?

    • Kendra

      Well, she did give us a list of her current/previous clients that we could call. I didn’t call any of them. I just feel that looking back, given only the information I had, I should have at least attempted a phone call. :)

    • rrlo

      My sister visited ten day cares (not exaggerating) and at the end almost put her son in one but ended up going with a different one. The one that her son almost went to – turned out to be pretty terrible (friends of hers sent their kids to that one and had to take them out).

      Anyway, the point is it is really hard to evaluate a good daycare from a bad one based on first impression only. None of us are daycare experts and a gut reaction is as good as anything else.

  • LiteBrite

    I usually take online reviews with a grain of salt. Many “bad” reviews are fairly vague which makes me wonder what the other side of the story is.

    I typically go with majority rule. If the majority have positive reviews, then great.

    • Jallun-Keatres

      Yes, you have to remember that the people who are moved to post reviews are usually the butthurt ones. All 5 reviews of one of my doctors made her out to be a cold, uncaring witch. Although I wouldn’t call her personable, she ended up–surprise!–not being a cold and uncaring witch.

    • Bic

      Or even just a clash of personality or expectations. It’s why I usually read the complaining about somebody articles on here with more than a little scepticism.

    • Jallun-Keatres

      Yes. There are definitely people who will read her wrong.

  • EmmaFromÉire

    Right so #9 bothers me. Maybe it’s a cultural difference, do you expect your children to be taught in a daycare? Because in Ireland that really doesn’t fall under their jurisdiction. Send them to a montessouri if that’s what you’re aiming for. That sounds like a discrepancy in expectation vs reality to me.

    • Courtney Lynn

      It’s not here in my part of the US, either. Pre-school is for kids from ages 3-5 until they go to kindergarten. Some parents just have high, unrealistic expectations.

    • jsterling93

      If I sent my child to a “day care” especially a in home day care I wouldn’t expect any educational activities to be taking place. That isn’t what goes on there. I did place my child in a child development center attached to a graduate school. The teachers are all pursuing advanced degrees in child development so there is actually a lot of educational activities for even the smallest children there. Of course the real purpose of that is that the teachers are working there as part of their degree program and they are evaluated on their performance.

    • Courtney Lynn

      Sounds like a cool program! In something like that, i would definitely expect there to be some learning going on rather than just babysitting.

    • kendra

      I believe that in daycare facilities, or at least some of them, caregivers are often referred to as “teachers”, because they do teach some things when they do the daily activities. I don’t expect much out of mine, as long as the kids are getting some different kinds of interaction and stimulation, I’m happy. I know she does a story time, they do coloring a lot, she loves to get them outside to play, etc. I’m not sure if facilities have more “structured” programs, but I think in general most people just expect some interaction to take place.

    • aCongaLine

      It bothers me when people refer to regular day care as “school.” My in laws do this, and it drives me bananas. They insist their kid is being taught Mandarin and yoga and piano… and he’s 1. Like, can’t kids just play, and that’s enough? I don’t have any experience with it, but something about that just irks me. I feel like it’s the same as having a bottle of whiskey and calling it wine- both’ll get you drunk, but they’re totally different. That may be a bad analogy…. but I agree. It’s an expectation vs. reality thing.

    • rrlo

      Many day cares are pretty much like schools – but for young kids. The teachers/caregivers in the class have ECE (early childhood education) degrees. They have a structured program where the kids “learn” things. It’s hilarious when you read their “schedule” – my son had like Science, math, folk-dancing among other things in his “curriculum”.

      Haha, the Mandarin and yoga thing for a 1 year old is too funny! I’d like to see that lesson in progress. Must be super cute.

      ETA: Hmm, having read some of the other comments, I wonder if things are different in Canada when it comes to educational activities in daycare.

    • The Kez

      It is definitely a thing – my 2.5 year old has French, yoga, music and gardening classes as part of his normal daycare program. He is not a big fan of French (too much sitting still) but absolutely loves yoga. It is great to get them following directions and helps to calm them down before naps. Plus it helps me manage my working mother guilt. Sure I’m away from him 10 hours a day, but he’s probably better off there being a yogi than he is at home watching his 100th episode of peppa pig.

    • Kelly

      This is interesting. I live in the US, midwest, and my child goes to a licensed, in-home daycare. The provider has a weekly theme/curriculum. Last week was weather. So all the story time books they read or have out to look at are about weather, and they did weather activities like talking about clouds and then playing with shaving cream to make cloud shapes on the table.The coloring pages they work on every day are weather themed. And they do a weekly field trip that goes with each week’s theme. I don’t remember where they went last week as my daughter is too young to attend the trips, but the idea is that they learn something but in a pretty casual way. Most of the time is spent playing. I can’t imagine my kid learning French, yoga, or gardening…I know she’d love it but it’s certainly not something I expect, especially for what I’m paying. And I don’t think other parents in my area have those expectations either…

    • Guets

      I want to go to this daycare.

    • LiteBrite

      It depends. Both of my son’s daycares are NAEYC-accredited, which basically means they have a more educationally-based curriculum than other daycares. My son wasn’t learning yoga or Mandarin, but they were definitely working on the alphabet, basic math, and other things that he would’ve learned in 4k or kindergarten. He was even learning Spanish and sign language. In fact, he was considered “advanced” when he entered public school, and that was mostly due to what he learned at his former daycare.

      However, I do think it goes back to expectations. I expected a more education-based day from them because that was their big selling point. (They exceeded those expectations, by the way.) I wouldn’t have necessarily expected that from another daycare.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      I am also from Canada and am surprised by the comments as well. I mean, my kid’s daycare doesn’t have ‘classes’ or anything but they do structured activities and play-based learning, and it’s not a fancy private daycare or anything, it’s a regular non-profit daycare.

    • aCongaLine

      I totally get accreditations, degrees, and curriculums… and I’d want a place that I was trusting people to care for my tiny humans to have those things- if only so that I knew my tiny humans were safe and properly cared for. An educational-based center is great! I’m just skeptical of the Yoga and Mandarin… my ILs seem to think it’ll get Jr. into Yale at age 14, which is a whole other issue, lol.

      As long as there is time for play- play is just so important for tiny humans.

    • Jallun-Keatres

      lol I thought the same thing. Educational? Daycare?? Naw lady that’s preschool and even then it’s not… much.

    • JLH1986

      It can be. I attended a “non-profit” daycare and before kindergarten I could count to 20, write my name, phone number and address, etc. But my parents looked for a daycare that provided that. Because of the hyper competitive nature of most parents in this area even in-home daycares are getting in on it and there are times of the day where kids are in “class” based on their age/comprehension level. Most of the kids here can read, write count in at least 2 languages know all their colors etc. well before kindergarten.

    • Jallun-Keatres

      I know it can be, and is, but it’s not something I’d think of first. Trust me, I know it’s out there! I’m not being closed-minded!

    • VĂ©ronique Houde

      Here, it’s standard that daycares are educational, especially the daycares that are government run.

    • http://ichasekids.com/ Litterboxjen

      I’m another Canadian parent, and I can say that my daycare provider definitely has educational activities, but it’s not a super-structured thing, partly because right now my kid’s the only attendee. ;) We were definitely given a schedule of the kinds of activities they do when we interviewed the daycare provider, and to be honest I don’t know how closely they follow it, but I’m not too concerned. My kid’s happy there (my husband has to get his goodbyes in before she gets in the door, otherwise she doesn’t have any time for him), she’s getting attention and will have a new buddy as of today, and the provider and I talk about any concerns either of us have. We have a role to play in educating her at home, and we’re doing a lot of that ourselves; anything she gets in daycare is just gravy.

  • girlindisguise

    #5 kind of confuses me. It sucks that the woman hung up so abruptly but wouldn’t you rather them be honest than take on a child with special needs and really not know to handle the situation? My brother’s girlfriend works in a daycare (that her mom runs) that deals with special needs children and it’s exhausting.

    • JLH1986

      She was unprofessional about hanging up, but I can’t say she was unprofessional or ignorant. I would actually say it was quite knowledgeable to say “We don’t have experience with children with special needs.” Rude? Yes. Could she have articulated that better? Yes. Intolerant or ignorant? No.

  • Ursi

    #7 might be a daycare dictator but I think the idea of bringing in a staff member for conflict resolution is right on. I get that maybe the mom thinks its impersonal and another employee certainly isn’t a neutral third party but from the point of view of the director she’s protecting her own liability with parents who may become unreasonable. I think that’s brilliant.

    • pixie

      If they’re unionized, they might even require there to be a third party there. When I worked at a grocery store during my undergrad, I had to sit in on a cashier being fired for petty theft because the union contract said that another unionized member needed to witness the termination and the union rep wasn’t working at that time (the managers weren’t part of the union).

    • JLH1986

      That’s pretty standard in retail anymore. Because people will say anything. Including the managers doing the firing…or speaking with a parent or whatever. It protects BOTH parties, not just the school or manager. If someone is inappropriate rarely is a third party going to risk their neck in a lawsuit etc. to lie.

    • pixie

      Yeah, I can see that. I think that’s why our union had that requirement in place and the managers also enjoyed not getting sued.

    • Larkin

      That was my reaction, too. Didn’t seem unreasonable to me… especially having worked in kids summer camps and seen the way some parents can get.

    • keelhaulrose

      I’m with you on the witness.
      My director didn’t always bring in a witness, but she often did in certain cases (parents we knew would be a problem, child disciplinary cases when behaviors haven’t been addressed, suspicion of special needs). It was because complaints often went over her head, and she wanted another person in the room to back her up. She started that after she brought in a parent of a child we suspected might be autistic, and the parent complained to the owner that she called her kid “retarded” and “stupid”.

    • Aldonza

      I work at an educational arts studio and that’s are policy for everything. If there is an issue, we get the education director or the artistic director or one of the office staff. It’s helpful to have witnesses. It’s the same reasons we are never alone with a student.

  • aCongaLine

    I’m starting to poke around for a full time job, which means that if anything pans out, I’ll be poking around for a daycare for my kiddos… and now I’m terrified. And ready to puke from the anxiety of the chance of a search. Here’s hoping the places around here are excellent, should we need them.

    Also, why keep your kid in the same terrible place for so many years, #1? :(

    • Bethany Ramos

      It is really nerve-wracking, but we have not had any problems yet. :) Good luck!

    • aCongaLine

      I can imagine. I poked around at a few, but, I have a hang up when it comes to grammar. One that a friend of mine uses is supposed to be excellent, but their website is riddled with errors. Yech. I keep telling myself it’s all hypothetical, and that I’ll freak out if and when we actually have to pick one.

  • Larkin

    It’s so hard to gauge reviews for these sorts of things. It reminds me of when I was looking for an OB. Even the supposedly amazing doctors had at least one or two one-star reviews because the people leaving said reviews were entitled, hormonal pregnant women who don’t understand that the world doesn’t revolved around them.

    I’m guessing daycares are similar. Look at the trend, not at individual reviews (unless one bad review has something so horrifying that you don’t even want to risk it).

    • Bethany Ramos

      Like I said, I gave our daycare an AMAZING Google review and meant every word — while some other douche gave her a terrible review and claimed she ripped them off. I find that very hard to believe.

    • Larkin

      My favorites are the people who leave reviews without ever actually visiting or using the facility. I saw a one-star daycare review that basically went, “I called and they told me it cost [whatever the cost was]. This is ridiculous and way too expensive! DO NOT GO HERE!!!!” Good times.

    • Bethany Ramos

      I have passed this place on the street and hate the way it looks!! LOL

    • Jessifer

      It was the same thing with my midwifery clinic. Someone gave it 1/5 stars because his wife was unable to breastfeed. Apparently, that’s somehow the midwife’s fault.

    • JLH1986

      Ha well at least it wasn’t Obama’s fault.

  • ChickenKira

    The place my daughter goes to I think is fantastic. Never had an issue with them, the staff all seem to be lovely, if she comes home with sand in her pants, pasta sauce and paint on her top and has to go to bed early because she is so exhausted then I think that’s a good thing. It means she is having a very active, busy day with lots of fun things and good food. That’s pretty much every day she is there (well not the pasta sauce, they eat more than just pasta, okay I have to admit I wasn’t overly happy about the Moroccan chicken stains, only because they were so hard to wash out).

    Anyway, her center has an online review that says pretty much the exact same thing, but as a negative. “I can’t believe that my child came home dirty, they obviously aren’t taking care of the kids, I pulled him out” style of review. It wasn’t exactly a crazy review, I could see her point, I just disagreed that it was a problem.

    Each to their own, but someone’s bad point can be someone else’s good point.

    • lin

      I run a home daycare and send the kids home messy a lot. Kids should be playing in dirt, painting, etc. Drives me nuts when parents make snide remarks about it, or wonder how they will put their messy kid in the car. They do wear cover-ups for painting, and bibs on pasta days, but these aren’t fool-proof. As for dirt – don’t send your kid in a frilly pink dress. Unless you are totally fine with it getting wrecked! It used to stress me out – now I just try to find parents who are a good fit with the daycare. I certainly hope no one would give the daycare a bad review because of that though!

    • Jallun-Keatres

      I attended a special preschool (half special needs, half neurotypical) and though I was too young to remember this my mom said one of the girls wasn’t allowed to play outside because it would ruin her dress!! I think the staff changed her clothing and then changed her back before her mom came back.

    • JLH1986

      The few daycares I know of insist parents bring a change of clothes for such a thing if they don’t want an outfit to get dirty. Seems to work for most parents.

  • MLSKC

    Love my sitter- Mini Me #2 is always excited to see her in the mornings. I searched high and low while pregnant, but it was hard to find an in home sitter that had an opening and that I liked. My neighbor heard that we were looking and gave me a referral, and bam! We all clicked. I never saw in home reviews on Google for my area, but there were plenty of centers on there with multiple bad reviews.

  • rrlo

    I found the best thing to do is hit up other parents in the neighbourhood with similar age kids and see where they are sending little ones. That’s how I found the daycare for our son. He is been there for 1.5 years now and we’re very happy with how things are going.

  • Jenna

    WTF #1?! Why would she sent her child to a place that she felt was “1-star” for 3.5 years?

    • VĂ©ronique Houde

      My thought exactly – it CAN’T Be the only place for her to send her kid…

  • Neville

    Why don’t you try raising your own child you useless whĂ´res? Or did you just shĂŻt that out and give everyone else the burden of your sniffling ugly child. You should have aborted it.

  • Nica

    The
    daycare search was one of the most interesting, frustrating, strange, shocking
    and stressful parts of my pregnancy! I wish I were kidding but I am not. There
    wasn’t much in the way of online reviews or websites for daycares six years ago
    when I was searching, so I did the old call on the phone and schedule a visit
    thing… I literally visited about thirty daycares and it was an enlightening
    experience to say the least. I came across daycares that were so dirty and
    chaotic that I wouldn’t send my dog there. Some had workers that were really
    high on the creep-o-meter. Others were wonderful but would have cost a good
    chunk of my salary to send my kid there full time. Some didn’t return my phone
    calls looking for a visit for a couple of weeks! I was really stymied trying to
    find a daycare which gave me a good impression but also charged a reasonable
    price. I wasn’t looking for bargain basement, but something what would still
    let me keep enough of my salary to make working worthwhile! How did I finally
    find the daycare where my kids have been the past almost five years? Word of
    mouth – best reference ever. I’d take that over any anonymous online review or
    director-lead tour any day. I was able to get the good and the bad of the
    daycare (and NO daycare is perfect). I’ve recommended my daycare to two other
    friends and they’ve been happy there too. Is it perfect? No. Nothing is, but it’s
    been a good fit for us and my kids look forward to going there every day. That
    works for me.

  • Robotic Socks

    We all know that Yelp reviews are full of trolls and people with vendettas against the target.

    Just like Mommyish comments section!

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