The birth of your baby was one of the most momentous events in your life, and now it’s time to go back to work. You know that choosing the right day care provider is essential to ensuring your child’s well-being, but how do you know what makes a good daycare provider?
The following is a list of 10 things to look for when choosing your daycare provider.9
- Licensing - Choose a provider who is licensed by the state. Every state has set minimum standards for a person or facility to be licensed for childcare. Usually the provider is required to be certified in child CPR and first aid, and will have gone through background checks and facility safety inspections. You want to know your child is safe!
- Open –door - The provider you choose should have an open-door approach for parents that allows you to come and go and see your child any time you want. While it is understandable that a provider does not want parents visiting during quiet-time, or naptime, be leery of a provider who says you “cannot” visit during some particular time of the day.
- Adult-child Ratio - Ask what the adult to child ratio is and double check that they are within state guidelines. Usually this depends on the ages of the children in the provider’s care and the amount of space allocated for the children’s use. You want your child to have ample one-on-one attention and room to grow.
- Cleanliness - When you visit a daycare, keep an eye out for the cleanliness of the facility. You cannot expect it to be sterile, but you can expect them to have standards for hand washing and toileting/diaper changing. Ask a home provider if they have pets and how much contact your child will have with them. Don’t be afraid to ask the questions that will help keep your child healthy.
- Schedule - Ask your prospective daycare provider what a typical day looks like. Do they have a daily schedule that is well rounded? Do they include time for specific lessons and reading? Do the children spend time outside every day, when the weather permits? What kind of exercise do they get if the children cannot go outside? Do they have scheduled quiet time, and yes, even some television time?
- Toys - While the schedule of activities is important, it is equally important for the daycare to have a wide variety of age-appropriate toys and games, and that they are kept separate. The infant and toddler area is not the place for preschoolers to play with their Lego’s or Play-dough.
- Meals and Snacks - Your child will soon be eating table-food, so you want to make sure the daycare provider serves a wide variety of nutritional foods. Kid-friendly foods may be the way to get children to eat, but they may not be the most nutritious. Your provider should have menus available for you to look at. This way you will know that every day there will be something your child likes. Don’t forget to talk to the provider about any food allergies or sensitivities your child may have.
- Policies - Good daycare providers will have a written policy that covers just about every issue that can come up. From their emergency procedures, and what happens if a child is sick, to their discipline policy and when a parent will be called. You will want to know what will happen in any circumstance as it pertains to your child.
- Contracts - A contractual agreement for daycare charges is an important component in choosing a provider. With a signed contract, there will be no question as to how much you will pay per hour or per day, what the pay schedule is, or how to handle vacation and sick time.
- Good Feeling - Finally, after visiting a prospective daycare provider, you should have a general, overall good feeling, about leaving your child in their care. You can reinforce that feeling by talking to references and seeing the other well-cared children.
While no one can take your place in your child’s life, if you follow these suggestions for finding a good daycare provider, you will be sure that your child has the best possible care while you are at work. But start early- good daycare providers fill up fast.
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Story by Barbara Feldman