Choosing a Quality Childcare Provider
Although there’s no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to child care, there are basics to look for which will ensure that your children are well cared for. Take it one step at a time, and trust your instincts.
First, do your research. Ask friends and family for recommendations. Ask for specifics. What do they like/dislike? Use our website to find informative reviews of centers from other parents. Check state websites for local guidelines. Learn about recommended child-to-staff ratios as well as credentials required for positions such as director, lead teacher, and assistant teacher. Look at the website of prospective child care programs, or call, to find out about their accreditation, ages cared for, costs, hours, meals, and transportation. Research their philosophy of education and discipline.
Second, make an appointment to visit. Use your senses to help evaluate the environment.
- Does it smell clean and fresh, or is there a lingering odor?
- Listen to the children. Is there laughing? Do the kids sound involved in their play? Is there a television blaring? How do the adults talk to the children? Is there shouting and edgy voices, or quiet talking.
- Is there a variety of play areas? Look for carpeted areas with floor cushions or small armchairs for reading, hard floors for indoor ball or block play, and hard washable floors for the eating areas. Outdoor play areas should be fenced, clean and spacious.
- Look for bright colors, clean floors and toys, and a variety of age appropriate toys, games and art activities. Look for smiles; kids engrossed in play.
Talk to the director and the age-level teacher.
- Ask about values and discipline. Are their practices in line with yours?
- Ask about hand-washing guidelines. This is a very important issue. The number one cause of infections in day-cares is improper or infrequent hand-washing.
- Ask about background and credentials. Are teachers required to have background checks?
- Ask abut fire drills, disaster procedures, and emergency procedures if your child is hurt or ill.
The last step is to make an unscheduled visit at the program and look at everything again. Ask for names of parents you can talk to about their experience with the center.
Entrusting your children to others isn’t easy, but you can find quality child care you’re comfortable with. When you have, return to our website and share your experience in order to benefit other parents.