The key is to narrow down your choices based on factors like location, recommendations and availability, then do your homework. Here are five key questions to ask a prospective childcare provider that can guide you in your search:
Does The Center Have A Current License?
A current state-level license is certainly not the only thing that identifies a quality center, but it’s a good place to start.
These credentials ensure that the daycare passes minimum standards of cleanliness and safety. Many times, a center’s current license and credentials can be found online on their website, but if they’re not, you should ask to see them when you visit the location. Any daycare that does not have these documents readily available should be avoided.
Additionally, high-quality care centers may have accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). National accreditation provides that the center has exemplary staff qualifications, curriculum organization, parent communication, in addition to health and safety standards.
In the US, only 7,000 centers have achieved this degree of accreditation, so if the daycare you’re considering has this, it’s a very good sign.
How Does The Center Limit Illness + Promote Health?
Kids are infamous for passing germs around. In this delicate time, many parents worry about the likelihood of their children picking up something from the daycare.
And yes, it is true that on average, daycare-attending kids get sick more frequently than other children. That’s why you should ask questions early on to prevent a nasty surprise from springing up later.
A good daycare center will have written policies that detail their plan for not spreading illness. What’s their response if a care provider gets sick? What symptoms will prevent a child from being able to attend? Find a daycare with a robust sanitization strategy in place.
Also look for what systems and resources are available to keep everyone healthy and safe. Are smoke detectors in place? Plenty of soap and hand sanitizer? How often are the toys and play areas washed? Look for potential hazards or dangers that are not being properly managed.
How Is The Communication Between Parents And Care Providers?
Good communication will enable the caregivers to serve your child in an individualized manner. It will also bring you peace of mind if you can receive updates and hear about what’s going on while you’re away. As you shop around for a daycare, find out how centers usually accomplish this.
In an ideal situation, and especially if your child is young, you should be able to touch base with a caregiver each day to let them know how your child slept, what they’ve eaten recently, and give them other useful information about teething or special needs. With interactive software such as Smartcare’s, many daycares can easily send pictures, messages and other updates to parents throughout the day.
Does The Center Provide Healthy Food And Snacks?
It may be that your child spends more time eating at the daycare than eating at home. So make sure the daycare feeds them the way you would like them to be fed!
Nutritional snacks and food are very important for the healthy development of children, and a daycare that is on your side with this can prove to be a valuable ally.
Beware of daycares that have no restrictions for candy or sweets, or daycares that serve highly processed food.
How Do The Caregivers Interact With The Children?
Many daycares have a philosophy or mission statement about how they hope to serve and attend to their children in a loving, individualized manner. Although these statements can be valuable, many times it’s even more valuable to actually observe how care providers interact with the kids.
In the best situation, they’re holding children in their laps, they’re down on all fours playing with the kids, and finding opportunities to be with them one-on-one. Particularly for babies and toddlers, these secure and loving relationships play an important role in the social development of your child.
Ask if you can observe for a portion of the day, or talk to parents who currently have their children enrolled to get the inside scoop.