There are many things to consider when searching for the right childcare center for your son or daughter. Not only is enrolling your child in childcare an investment, but you must feel comfortable enough to trust your child with them while you are at work. Whether it’s called a childcare center, preschool, learning center or nursery school, make sure you do your research before settling. Obvious factors like hours and price are rarely overlooked, but other features like qualifications, communication and references are often overlooked, and they should not be. Note: as measles is making a comeback, ask if the daycare allows unvaccinated children. If it does, look elsewhere.
Hours: One of the first things to consider when researching childcare centers is the hours. Do they fit your needs? Is there flexibility if you have to work late? What about vacations and holidays?
Price: A big deciding factor will be the fee. How much will it cost for your child or children? Are there any extra/hidden fees? How are the payments made? Weekly, monthly? Do they accept state aid? What is included in the cost?
Qualifications/Staffing: Are the staff highly trained and certified (CPR/First Aid, infant care, early-childhood education)? Are they staying up to date with annual certifications and trainings? What is the adult-to-child ratio? How many children are in a room at one time? Can the childcare center provide you with health and safety inspection reports?
Is there a qualified health professional on call for the children? How often do they visit? The national standard recommends that a health professional should make a visit to childcare programs with infants and toddlers once a month, and every three months for all other programs.
Visiting and Communication: Visiting the center before deciding can be helpful – does the center allow that? Once enrolled, can you visit at any time? Are visitors screened and approved before entering the childcare center? As for communication, do they provide feedback to you about your child(ren)? When it comes to discipline, is it similar and in line with how you discipline your child(ren) at home?
Policies/ References/ Licenses: What are the center’s written policies for health standards, nutrition, discipline, transportation, media, outdoor play, etc.? Is the center licensed, accredited or registered with local government agencies as required? What is the drop-off and pick-up policy? Can the childcare center give you a reference list of current parents that you can contact?
This may seem like a lot to consider, but all of these factors are important when making the best childcare choice for your son or daughter. Do your research, take your time, and take into account online reviews and references to help you make the right decision. Creating a checklist with the above questions for the childcare centers you are considering is a good place to start.