Selecting a daycare is one of the most important decisions you’ll make before returning to the workforce.
Why? The center you choose will ultimately be responsible for your child’s well being and safety the 5-9 hours a day they are left in the care of the center.
Whether you are looking for a home child care provider or an official daycare center, there are several things you should keep in mind before signing your children up for care.
Location – first and foremost, you have to decide where you would like to have your child cared for. This could be in a center close to your home, your job, or you may even prefer care in your home. Once you have decided on location you can start investigating the available centers or providers in that area.
Ask for References – Ask your friends and other family members with children for references about good daycare centers. These are often the most reliable source of information about daycare.
Interview Daycare Staff – Never place your child in a daycare center without first meeting the staff. Make a point to meet the director and the caregivers that will be looking over your little one. Feel free to ask them questions about their standards, disciplinary procedures, sleep and even feeding routines. You should be looking for staff members that are enthusiastic, dedicated, warm and caring. Their love of children should be evident in everything that they do. If you are not comfortable with the staff, look somewhere else.
Check References – As we mentioned you should check with your family and friends for references to a decent day care center. You should also ask the center for a list of references you can call to confirm their qualifications. One thing you might also inquire about is staff turn over. The higher the rate of turn over the more likely there is to be trouble.
Remember that a good day care center will have a clean environment, a good reputation, solid rules and a curriculum that includes lots of playtime, physical activity, learning activities and even quiet time.
When determining whether a daycare is good or not, also keep in mind staff ratios. Generally for babies the ratio should be one caregiver for every three children when there are six infants and one for every four if there are eight.
For toddlers aged 12-24 months the ratio is usually 1:3 for six children, 1:5 for ten and 1:4 for 12.
Check to see if the ratio falls within recommended guidelines but is also acceptable to you.
You should also make sure that the daycare facility is operating using a valid non-expired license. You can check to see if a license is valid by calling your local social services department.
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