As much as most moms and dads would love to stay home all day with their little ones, the financial reality of most parents is that they need to work full-time. This means that they’re faced with finding a daycare provider to care for their precious baby during the day. It’s not easy; parents need to find a place that their child will like going and that is staffed with nurturing professionals. There should be an educational component, of course, with lots of activities that will allow them to work on fine motor skills, build intelligence, and have fun. Plus, it needs to be affordable.
The process of choosing a daycare provider can be an overwhelming one. Here are eight things to consider as you’re conducting your search.
- Is the staff qualified, and is the facility accredited and licensed?
Ask about the employees’ qualifications and experience, and ask to see licensing paperwork. You’ll also want to know if everyone there is up to date on their infant/child CPR and first aid certification, and it’s smart to ask if there’s a health professional on staff to handle sudden illnesses, allergic reactions, and medical issues. Finally, find out about the employee turnover rate. High turnover may indicate a problem with management.
- When is the facility open?
You want a provider whose hours fit your schedule. This is also the time to ask about early drop off and late pick up, as well as if there are any fees if you run a bit late.
- What’s the staff to child ratio?
This will vary as your child moves up in age groups, but ultimately, not enough staff members means that your child will get less individualized attention. The American Academy of Pediatrics has specific recommendations for staff to child ratios and daycare group sizes on their website.
- Is there a curriculum?
And if so, what will your child’s day look like? Ask about things like circle time, free play, playground and outside time, and age-appropriate lessons.
- What does the facility look like?
An in-person visit is crucial to scope out the daycare center you’re considering; two visits is an even better idea. Check to see that the rooms are clean, that things are generally organized, and that the kids seem happy and well cared for.
- What’s the word on the street?
Look into a facility’s reputation and get recommendations from trusted friends and family. Ask a potential daycare provider for references (ideally parents of kids who currently attend) to have some honest feedback.
- What does it cost?
This is the bottom line for most parents: is the daycare provider affordable? Rates can vary, so be sure to find out exactly what your charges will be before you commit.
- Remember, you can always change.
If things aren’t working out, there are other daycare options for your child. Go with your gut, be your child’s top advocate, and do what is best for you and your baby.
Choosing a daycare provider is an important decision for any parent. There are usually many reputable and affordable centers in most areas, so deciding which one is best for you and your baby can be a bit agonizing. However, if you take it slow, ask the right questions, and make a careful and well-informed decision, the odds are good that you’ll pick a place that you and your child will love.