Selecting a Daycare Center

Learn what quality day care should be and seek it out.

© Sebastian Czapnik |

Childcare providers deserve the respect and compensation given to teachers. They are more than pigtail-and-bubble-gum babysitters. These persons are substitute parents. Learn what quality day care should be and seek it out rather than settling for mediocrity. Your child will benefit. Here are some tips to help you in making the selection.

• Check out the centers of your choice, spending some time watching the caregivers and children relate. Find out which person will be primarily looking after your baby. Watch how she relates to the children in her charge. How does she discipline them? When they cry, how does she comfort them? Is she sensitive? Does she give the children eye-to-eye contact? Does she touch and hold them? Does she engage in lively conversation? Does she appear to enjoy handling babies? Is she able to adapt to the ever-changing moods of some toddlers? Does she have a sense of humor? Above all, watch how the children relate to the caregivers. By observing staff and children interacting, you will get a feel if there is a genuine connection there.

• Ask about the ratio of caregivers to children. The maximum should be no more than four children for one caregiver.

• Examine the center’s license to be sure that it is current.

• Inquire about the credentials of the staff.

• Ask what the philosophy of the center is. Use leading questions, like “What will you do when my baby is crying?”

• Browse around the facilities. Are they clean? Is the equipment safe? Are the toys age appropriate?

• Are the children generally happy? Does the staff appear caring, connected, and attentive, or more distant and detached from the kids?

• Ask about their sick-child policy, whom they admit, whom they don’t. Watch their sanitation procedures. Do they wash hands after changing diapers, maintain separate diapering and food-serving areas, sanitize the toys when necessary, and discourage sharing of bottles, pacifiers, and other personal items?

• Is all the staff trained in CPR? Ask to see their certificates. Do they have a policy for handling disasters and emergencies such as fires?

• Visit the center at a time when other parents are dropping off or picking up their children. Ask other parents for references.

Don’t feel you are imposing on the daycare center by asking probing questions. The industry to which we are entrusting the future of our country should have high standards and be willing to demonstrate them. — Source: The Baby Book


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