Choosing a Daycare – Questions Every Parent Should Ask

Good parenting is not only about when you are physically with your childrensmall toddler in daycare, but it is also making sure they are in a safe environment when you are not there. If you are a working mom and don't have the benefit of family or friends to watch your child, it often becomes a necessity that you enroll your child in a daycare center. While you may be understandably leery, here are some tips for choosing a daycare provider which will help in alleviating some of the fears you may have. 

  • Check out the daycare centers in your area, either on line or by calling.
  • Find out if there are any vacant spots so you can enroll your child.
  • Ask where they are located and their hours of operation.
  • What is the cost?
  • Ensure the daycare provider is licensed. 
  • Ask how many children are currently enrolled in the center, and their ages. 
  • Ask if they supply meals to the children.

The next series of steps you take are very important. Visit the daycare center and check on the following:

  • Is it clean and safe? Is the ratio of caregiver to child appropriate?
  • Are the children actively engaged in activities? 
  • Do the children seem happy and are being taken care of individually. 
  • Are there enough toys and materials with which the caregiver is able to engage the children in activities?
  • How do the caregivers talk to the children? Are they warm and friendly?
  • Ask the administrator to give you background information on the staff. Are they licensed in this particular area?
  • Ensure these have been trained and have the proper credentials.
  • Does the center have exits which are readily available to use in case of emergency egress.

The final step is first hand inspections. Visit several during the early morning hours. Determine which center provides the best care and treatment of your child, and has plenty of activities and materials to keep your child active and focused. Then choose accordingly.

The other alternative is to choose a daycare provider to come to your home. This may produce another set of problems, especially should you decide to use a family member to help out. Make sure that you weigh your options carefully, and decide which is more affordable and better choice for you and your child. Research, talk to other moms, and network.

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July 2, 2007

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July 2, 2007

Karen Bastille @ 7:07 pm #

I retired after more than twenty five years in early childhood education aka childcare. May I add a couple more suggestions from my experience?
-Make it a point to do "pop in " visits to your child's center at various points in the day. I know that's hard to do when you're working, but try to arrange your schedule so that you can observe lunch, rest time, outdoor play, mid-morning and mid-afternoon every few weeks or so. What you see when dropping off or picking up your child may be very different from the rest of your child's day.
-Be aware that no matter how wonderful your child's teacher is, she will have an occassional sick day or personal day that will keep her out of work. What are the arrangements for substitute staff? Try and meet them.
-There will also probably be a couple of hours in the morning and possibly in the afternoon when your child's teacher will not be there.
Assuming your center is open for 10-12 hours and the teacher works 8-9 hours – you have a weak area there that is probably filled with younger assistant staff. Meet them.

There are many fine childcare facilities operating in most communities –
you owe it to your child to do the best you can to make sure he or she is attending one of them
Karen

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