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 former Director, I have compiled a list of tips to help you make the best choice for your family. Children’s healthy development is based on the positive experiences and interactions during their first 3 years. Choosing quality childcare is not an option and it is the most important choice made by a family.
- 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.
- 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 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 a 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
- 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 the 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
- 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.
- 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(reading to a class)
- 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 Early Childhood Education center 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 childcare checklist to use on your visits!