Choosing Quality Childcare
STEPS TO CHOOSING QUALITY CHILD CARE
Placing your child in childcare will be one of the most difficult decisions you will have to make as a parent. When choosing a child care arrangement you want to make sure you choose the best quality program possible that will stimulate them and fulfill their every need. There are several things you can do to help ensure that you choose an arrangement that both you and your child will be comfortable with.
Your initial phone call:
- Are you licensed? What is your license (how many stars?) - Visit the Division of Child Development website for information on Star Ratings.
- What are your days and hours of operation?
- What are your fees and what do they include?
- Are meals and snacks provided?
- Can you give me 2 references?
Once you have made your initial phone calls and checked their references, you should narrow your choices down and schedule one on one appointments with at least 3 childcare programs for an interview.
Your first visit:
At your visit you will have the opportunity to talk one on one with the director of the program, and tour the facility. During your visit you should obtain a copy of any policy and procedures manuals they have for parents. Also, you should ask about any special concerns you have such as payment schedules, late pick up, or their sick child policy. Some other questions you may want to ask are:
- What are your staff/child ratios? - how many children are there per teacher in each age group
- What training and experience does the staff have?
- Are all teachers trained in first aid & CPR
- Is there a visiting policy? - If they do not allow you to visit at anytime you may want to find out why as that is against licensing policy.
- How are the children disciplined? - there should be no corporal punishment, as well as limited time out usage, and no confinement.
- What emergency procedures are in place?
- How long have the teachers been here? How long have you been here?
Other things to look for:
During your tour you should look to make sure the facility appears to be safe:
- electrical outlets should be covered
- a fire escape plan should be posted
- the outdoor area is safe and fenced in
- the toys and furniture should be in good shape and suitable for play
- first aid equipment is accessible
- there is an adult supervising children at all times
- all cleaning supplies should be well out of the children’s reach and medicines should be kept locked
- What is the sanitation rating?
While in the classroom look to see if the teacher is taking part in the activities with the children and not sitting off to the side. The teacher should talk to the children in a way in which they can understand and relate to her. You also want to make sure that the children seem happy and enjoy each other and the teacher. Also check to make sure there is a variety of toys and activities that are easily accessible to the children and appropriate for the ages of the children in the classroom.
After you have had an appointment with each program you are considering, it is a good idea to make at least one unannounced visit. At this visit check to see if the program seems to be operating in the same way as before. When you look into the classroom notice if the children are playing freely or made to sit in groups or at a table. Young children should not be expected to sit for extended periods of time.
When enrolling your child, you can help him/her have a smooth transition by talking to him about what to expect when he gets there. Before you leave you should tell your child good-bye and let him know when you’ll be coming back to pick him up. By doing this you are reassuring him that you will be back, which can help with separation anxiety. A staggered entry may also be helpful if this is the first time he/she will be exposed to childcare.