Choosing a daycare for your child can seem overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time. Here are some tips to make the process seem less daunting.
- Make a List of Options – You can use a search engine to look up daycare centers in your area. First, you will need to decide how far you are willing to drive. As long as you have your location services turned on, searching something like “daycare facilities within 20 miles” should bring up several options. From there, make a list of potential facilities.
- Check Reviews – Choose a daycare facility from your list and take the time to read their online reviews. Most daycare facilities will have reviews available on sites like Google, Yelp, and ChildcareCenter.us. There are also websites where you can look up daycare violations. This should prove to be extremely helpful to know which facilities to exclude from your subsequent search efforts. You can also speak to other caregivers who have used the particular facility and ask them about their experiences.
- Review Websites – Take the time to check out the daycare facilities’ websites. You will want to take a look at the center as a whole, read about their childcare and discipline philosophies and policies, and make sure that they are licensed properly based on your particular state requirements. These can be found on the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education. In addition, some States have level systems for licensed centers. Indiana, for example, uses the “Paths to QUALITY” system, which provides information as follows:
- Level One: Health and safety needs of children met
- Level Two: Environment supports children’s learning
- Level Three: Planned curriculum guides child development and school readiness
- Level Four: National accreditation (the highest indicator of quality) is achieved
4. Go on a Tour – Once you narrow down your list to a few facilities, call and find out if you can schedule an in-person tour. That way, you can see the facility, meet the employees, and see the setup. Bring a list of questions with you to ask, including the cost of tuition, ratios or children to employees, qualification, and experience of the employees, waiting list, and safety policies.
5. Make a Choice – By this point, you should have your list narrowed down to just a few contenders. I find it’s best at this point to make a Pros and Cons list, but ultimately, you will need to make a decision based on which agency you feel was the right fit for your child and family.