Placing your child in childcare will be one of the most difficult decisions you will have to make as a parent. You need to be able to go to work feeling secure that your child is thriving and well cared for.
When making your initial call to a potential child care center or home, here are a few questions you might ask:
- 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?
If you choose to visit, what should you look for?
At your visit you should 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 might want to 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 their staff/child ratios? – How many children per teacher?
- What training and experience does the staff have?
- Are all teachers trained in First Aid & CPR?
- Can I stop by anytime? You should be encouraged to visit. If you are not, ask why?
- What is your classroom management practice?
- What emergency procedures are in place?
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
While in the classroom make sure to observe if the teacher is engaged in the activities with the children. The teacher should talk to the children in a way in which they can understand and relate to him or her. Most importantly, look for happy faces- trust your gut. It’s a parent’s most important tool.