Choosing the right daycare is extremely important, for new and old parents alike. For many parents, sending their child to daycare can be difficult because they are essentially sending them out on their own for the first time. Whether you are looking for in-home care, a family day care, or a formal child-care center, there are several factors one needs to consider before picking a daycare.

Where To Look

Before you even think about picking a daycare for your child, you need to know the right places to look. If you have friends or family members with young children, you can ask them what daycares they used, and if they would recommend them. Personal references are always the best kind, because you can count on your friends not to steer you in the wrong direction. There should also be a referral agency in your area. You can contact this agency and they should be able to provide you with home daycares and licensed centers in your area. You can also go online. Visit the websites of both the National Association of Family Child Care and the National Association for the Education of Young Children. You can also use review sites such as Yelp to read user comments and reviews on various daycares. Lastly, you can check the phone book. The Yellow pages will most likely have a list of home daycares and childcare centers in your area.

Narrowing It Down

After consulting your friends, contacting a referral agency, and checking online and in the phone book, you will no doubt be left with several options. Now it is time to narrow it down to a select few. For starters, you need to consider how easy it is for your child to get to the daycare. This is especially important for working parents, who will likely need a daycare close by so they can drop their child off on the way to work. Figure out a reasonable distance that will allow you to drop off your child and still get to work on time, and eliminate all centers that do not fall within this distance. You also need to figure out your budget, and eliminate all centers that are outside of your price range. If you are curious about a center’s day-to-day activities or any other issues, give them a call. You can then eliminate any center that doesn’t meet your standards.

Making Your Choice

At this point, you probably have two or three options remaining. The difficult part is choosing just one. The best thing you can do is visit the center and watch how they operate. Seeing how staff members interact with the children and what they are doing is extremely beneficial. If you are interviewing an in-home caregiver, make sure they are committed to the job. The last thing you want is to have your child become comfortable with someone, only to have them quit two months later. If you are picking a center that you found online or in the phone book, always ask for references. Other parents will be able to tell you a lot of information about the center, including any positives or negatives. Lastly, bring your child to the center for a day. Many centers will have “try-outs”, so to speak, which allow children to come and spend a day or two in the center. The most important thing is for your child to like going everyday and this is one of the best ways to discover this information.