5 Tips For Choosing Child Care

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Whether you are looking for a formal corporate child care center, faith-based child care center, family child care home, or private in home care.  There are some basic things you would need to know to help you with your search. With my experience as a child care business owner and Director, I have compiled a list of 6 tips to ensure you can make the best choice for your familyChildren’s healthy development is based on the positive experiences and interactions during their first 3 years.  Choosing quality child care is not an option and it is the most important choice made by a parent.

  1.   Start Early– start looking as soon as you know you’re expecting because you may have to go on a waitlist. See the list of the types of child care options available to for you.
  2. Tour The Center(Scheduled & Unscheduled Visit)– Understanding that referrals from other parents, friends or trusted resources are great, however, you will need to review the center for yourself several times to assess it will meet your needs.  A few details you may want to review are cleanliness, safety(childproofed) and age appropriate toys including sturdy or soft books.  Does the center share the space with older and younger aged children, if so the toys with small parts should be kept away from younger babies? TIP-any toys that can fit in a paper towel roll is too small for child up to 2 years of ages(choking hazard).  Ideally, infants and babies should have their own area for toddlers.  Infant rooms should have an area dedicated to swings, bouncers and equal area for the floor(tummy time) for physical development.  I encourage you to visit each location several times on a different day to get a feel of how the staff interacts with children.  This will also allow you to get a feel for the centers routine for that age group.  Once your child is enrolled, you should consider dropping unannounced just to see how your child is adjusting.  You need to see the center on their best day and well as not so good days.  No one center is perfect, but you want to find the right one for your family’s need
  3. Policies Check – Ask for a parent handbook to review during your visit. You want to find out if the center shares your ideas in regard to discipline(time outs, scolding), feeding(a copy of menu), sleeping(nap time) and so forth.  For family child care homes or private in home care, ask whether there is a backup plan should the provider get too sick to work.  Please ask these questions now, so you won’t be surprised by these policies later
  4. Emergency Plan-Check whether the child care center has an emergency plan in place. This should include fire extinguishers, evacuation route(nearest exits clearly identified), health department inspections visible.  In addition, does the center maintain a first aid kit and please provide a contact number to make a call from the center during an emergency.
  5. Make an Informed Decision– Take some time to review the information you have gathered from each location with all concerned family members. Compare what you have learned and how you felt about each program and make the best choice for your family.

Stay Involved – Now it’s time to partner with your child’s caregiver. Here a few ways to stay involved  with the program:

  • Offer to volunteer
  • Have parent teacher meeting regularly and ask questions
  • Join in special events held at the child care center.

Visiting and participating in events at your child’s sends a caring message.  It tells your child and your child’s teacher that you think what your child doing and learning is important.

Please contact me for free child care checklist to use on your visits!

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94 Comments

  1. I would also add: find out about their academic education. My youngest son had a daycare that was so good at teaching them site words and helping them get a great head start on school. I also think your gut instinct will help you get a feel if you will like the daycare.

    I never thought about volunteering, but what a great idea!

    • The curriculum is an important aspect of the decision in choosing a child care program as well. Parent volunteers are alway necessary and in our state volunteers have to be background checked as well thru the Child Abuse and Neglect Registry. Thank you so much for your comments.

  2. Touring the center is definitely important. I find that it’s best to make a scheduled appointment though, IF you want a REAL tour. Daycare centers are busy places and it’s not great to just spring in. Maybe, see the center scheduled first and if they are one of your top contenders you can just pop back in for an informal visit (like to “drop off paperwork, but while I’m here do you mind if my little one just takes a peek at the classroom real quick?” Also, you HAVE to meet the TEACHER!!! I’ve seen many centers where the teacher was gone or you never got to talk to the teacher. It’s soooo important to actually make contact with who will be your child’s teacher, just so you know they are friendly and mesh well with you.

    • Yes, establishing a relationship with the teacher is a must for a successful transition for child and family. As a former Child Development Center Director, I never scheduled visits. My potential client was free to come at their leisure. This helped to establish trust from the beginning and I held a quarterly parent meeting. Building a relationship with my parents and teachers becoming partners with parents were so important to the success of the program. The tour always included a tour of the outdoor playground and surrounding areas where children would take nature walks to enjoy God’s beauty. In addition, our babies were often strolled outside in the 6 passenger Bye-Bye buggy. I offer a detail visit checklist that include a lot more information. Thank you so much for your comments.

  3. Whenever I have my little ones, I will definitely be dropping in. I’m an educator so I know the importance of taking good care of someone else’s child. I’m already -extremely- protective of my students so I can only imagine what it will be like when I have my own.

  4. Wow I never thought to start looking as soon as I am expecting but that is a great tip! There are so many hoops you have to go through to get your child into school now it’s crazy!

    Love,
    Ivelisse | CarnationDreams.com

    • Ivelisse, many childcare centers, and family child care home will fill up fast, especially the quality ones. Also, Family Child Care Homes are a great option since many of them have their accreditation. I will be doing a more in-depth post on Family Child Care option later this month.

  5. Choosing a child care facility can be really challenging and sometimes nerve racking. It’s good to be prepared and truly take the extra time to research everything about the daycare and the workers there. A parent should never be afraid to ask questions, even after choosing the daycare. Great advice!

  6. I agree with your tip to review the child care center yourself to get a good assessment of it. I think there is a lot you can learn from those in-person visits about how the staff will be able to interact and communicate with your child. Since each child has different needs and a unique personality, you will be able to get a better idea during these visits on whether the center will be able to mesh well with your child.

  7. Thank you so much for the info! Leaving your child in someone else’s care is so scary.. always great to have good resources. I am probably going to have live-in care…

  8. Thanks for sharing these helpful tips. It’s really important to be knowledgeable enough before choosing a child care.

  9. Very useful information. There are so many hoops you have to go through to choose your child care now. Choosing a child care facility can be really challenging and sometimes you’re getting crazy !

  10. Such a great list of tips, and something that can help both new and experienced parents out in a pinch! Thank you for sharing, and giving a starting point with children and childcare providers!

  11. Excellent tips. I feel that volunteering and attending school events definitely go a long way to show not only the faculty you’re interested, but also your child.

    • LaShawn I am glad these tips will help you in your search for quality childcare. Finding quality childcare can be a daunting task. Please share this post with family and friends. Thank you for visiting my site.

  12. Choosing a child care provider is serious! We didn’t have to go this route but many friends and family had to. I remind soon to be parents to start looking early and ask for referrals and word of mouth.

    • Thank you, Shelley! Choosing childcare can be a very daunting task for families. I hope to educate childcare providers on the importance of providing that top quality childcare for families.

  13. This was a great informative post. Eight years ago, I wish I knew half of the tips highlighted, instead had to rely on my gut feeling. Extremely lucky for us our daughter was in a safe, loving and educational environment.

  14. I don’t have children but these are great tips to share with the parents that I work with. I didn’t think about looking at there policies as it relates to discipline, that something good to think about.

  15. I never even thought about having to be put on a waiting list. I can see why you would need to start years prior to enrollment considering how prestigious some of these schools are. I want the best education for my kids so I will probably get put on a wait-list as soon as I can.

  16. It was really nice how you said that we should take the time to review all the necessary information with the family first and make a comparison before choosing a child care center for a child. I will make sure to let my older brother know about that because the one who has a kid that needs to be enrolled in a child care center. I know that caring for a kid is paramount, so your tips make a lot of sense. Thanks a lot!

  17. Thanks for pointing out that you should ask for a parent handbook when you visit a daycare you’re considering. That would be a good way to figure out their policies. My daughter is old enough that I think she would be able to do well in a daycare, and I could get some time in to do everything I need to do in the day. I’ll have to do that as I look for a daycare to enroll her in.

  18. I really appreciate how you should hire a child care center that you can our ahead of time. I also like how you said that they should have some sort of safety plan in place as well. My husband and I are considering hiring a pre-kindergarten program for our daughter when she can play and be safe.

    • Ashley, many childcare centers will have a safety plan in place which should be listed in their parent handbook. However, you can always ask for that information during your center visit. Thank you for visiting.

  19. I recently got a job for the first time after having my daughter and I want to make sure we find the best child care center for her so that I can have peace of mind while I am at work. It is interesting that you say to ask for a parent handbook to review when you visit different child care centers. These handbooks should give you ideas in regard to disciplining, feeding, and nap time. I agree that you should ask as many questions up front so that you won’t be surprised by any policies later. Also, I had no idea that you should ask if they have an emergency plan in place with an evacuation route as well as a first aid kit in the center.

  20. Thanks for suggesting that we ask the child care centers we are considering for copies of the parent handbook to look over when we visit. My husband and I are looking for the best child care center to keep our son in now that I have to return to work. I will be sure to ask each program we visit for a copy of the parent handbook.

    • The parent handbook will give a view of the policies and procedures for the center. I encourage to make notes on any policies you will have questions about, such as holiday closing or inclement weather policy, etc.

  21. My daughter is getting to the age where I think sending her to a daycare would be beneficial for the both of us. Thank you for your suggestions on making sure the daycare has an emergency plan in place. I will have to make sure to check this when we find a center to send her to. I am wanting to make sure I find the right one so I am going to need to do a lot of research.

  22. My daughter has reached the right age to go into a daycare. My husband and I are planning to start looking for one by next week. I love that you suggested checking the handbook of the potential facility to gauge if they have the same ideas that we have when it comes to disciplining a child. Thanks for the tips!

  23. I’m glad that you suggested checking the parent handbook of a center to gauge if they have the same perspective about taking care and disciplining a child. It’s the first time that we will be sending a child to school, so I am grateful the tips that you gave. We’ve also just moved into this neighborhood, so it’s kind difficult to choose from the vast choices of centers in the area. Thanks!

    • Millie, the parent handbook will definitely be a factor in making your decision and it will give a tool for accountability. Thank you visiting my blog and please let me know if you have any additional questions.

  24. Thanks for the tips for choosing childcare. I agree that we want to tour a few different places without actually setting up a tour time. I’d like to see the facilities in their natural habitat, for lack of a better term.

  25. My sister is looking for a quality child care center for her daughter and I am glad that I found this article. You make a great point that you should choose a child care center with a great staff and make sure that the staff gets along with your kids. I will make sure to tell my sister to go and visit a few facilities because this will give her an idea of the environment and to see if she gets along with the staff.

    • Rosie it is so important to make more than one visit, scheduled and unscheduled as this will allow parents to get a good vibe about the center and staff. Good luck in the child care search. Let me know if you have anymore questions. Thank you for visiting my blog.

  26. I like how you mentioned that it’s best to look for a child care facility early, as you may be put on a wait list. My aunt will be having her 6th child, so she’s been wanting to put her younger children in child care while she recovers. These tips will help her find a great facility, so thank you for sharing this!

    • Taylor, I am glad that these tips will assist your Aunt in her search for quality childcare. This is such as important decision and must be approached with caution. Thank you for visiting. Please let me know if you have any additional questions.

  27. My wife just recently started working, and we’re looking for a daycare for our daughter. My favorite tip you gave was the suggestion to visit the center in-person to see what it’s like before entrusting our child there. I’ll definitely keep this tip in mind since I want only the best daycare for my daughter.

    • Mr. Cooper visiting the potential centers is a very important step in your search. Also, you cannot start these visits soon enough as many centers will have a waitlist. You may also consider family childcare center as well. Thanks for visiting my blog. Please visit soon.

  28. I wanted to thank you for your explanation about staying involved with the child care facility a parent chooses for his child. In my opinion, this is a way to help keep the facility alive so that others may benefit from it. In turn, my child can learn how to give back to the community.

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