Your Guide to Choosing the Right Daycare
Choosing a daycare for your child can be overwhelming. Not only are you dealing with the emotions that go along with sending your child off to be cared for by someone else, you are also dealing with the search for the best quality daycare option that will meet your needs, budget, and expectations. Daycare is a great way to teach your children important life skills. It allows them to follow a routine and be social with other children. To help you with your search we have created a helpful guide so that you can know what to insist on in your daycare search.
Narrow Down Your Search
Before you start your search, you should determine what you are looking for in a daycare. The first thing you are going to want to decide if you would like your child to be cared for in a home daycare or in a group daycare. A home daycare is run out of the daycare provider’s home. A group daycare is state-licensed and takes place in a center that often resembles a school, with the children being divided by age. You will also want to determine if you are looking for full or part-time daycare services. You may want to start your daycare search by asking friends, family, and coworkers if they have any recommendations. You can also look for reputable daycares online based on reviews and ratings.
You should also consider:
- Your budget
- Location (the distance you are willing to travel for drop off and pick up)
- The hours of the daycare
- The flexibility of the daycare
- Licensing of the daycare
Create a Screening Guide
Once you have narrowed down your search you will want to create a screening guide. This screening guide will be helpful in determining which daycare options are aligned with your needs and expectations. This screening guide will also help you to determine which daycare options are worth conducting in-person interviews with. Your screening guide should include any questions you may have and will give you a better feel for what the daycare is like. Some of the questions that you will ask will depend on if you are screening a home or group daycare. You can use your screening guide for email correspondence and phone calls. A few of the things you should ask in your screening guide include:
- How many children does the daycare look after at once?
- What is the cost?
- Is there a waiting list?
- What is the curriculum?
- What is the daycare’s overall philosophy?
- What would a typical day look like?
- What qualifications and experience do you have? (CPR, first aid, applicable education)
- What communication do you have with parents?
- What are the immunization policies?
- What is the sick kid policy?
- What are the safety measures in place?
- What are the cleaning practices in place?
- Are age groups separated?
- What is the staff to child ratio?
- How is the staff screened?
- Is the daycare insured?
Once you have narrowed down your search further using your screening guide, you will want to conduct in-person interviews so that you can get a real feel for the place and the people that are possibly going to be caring for your child. You should do your initial interview by phone. Ask any questions you may have beyond your screening guide, including hypothetical questions including flexibility of you were running late, what they would do if your child was sick, etc. These questions can allow you to get a good idea of the daycare providers and their practices. You should also ask for references so that you can do your homework.
After conducting your interviews, you should have a better idea of which daycare you may want to choose. You should take the time to call and check the references that have been provided. Have a notepad ready with questions you may want to ask so that you do not forget anything. Ask the references any questions you may have about their experience so that you can make your choice with confidence.
Before you commit to a daycare, dropping in unannounced can help you to see a clear picture of how things are run. When you drop in look for anything that may throw you off or cause you to have doubts about the daycare center such as behaviors, cleanliness or safety issues. If the daycare center that you are interested in does not allow unscheduled visits you may want to remove it from your list. A reputable daycare should allow for parents to drop in.
Doing your research and following your inner gut can help you to feel confident in finding the right daycare that will meet your needs and expectations for your child.