One of the biggest concerns of starting a daycare is the daycare license requirements. The myths and stories surrounding these requirements can be challenging for anyone.
- Provider Licensing/Registration: For your child’s safety, choose a caregiver that is registered with your State Childcare Licensing Agency. This ensures that the caregiver has met the State’s requirements and a satisfactory background check has been completed. It is strongly recommended that you contact the state and ask if any complaints have been filed against any caregiver you are considering.
- Location: The distance between your child’s caregiver and your place of employment can affect your daily routine in addition to playing a vital role in the event your child is injured, becomes ill or an emergency arises while your child is in the providers care. Choosing a program that is of equal distance between your home and work can reduce your commute time and will allow you the option of visiting your child should you choose.
- Safety: Every childcare setting should be properly childproofed with the appropriate safety precautions in place in the event of an emergency. Emergency Evacuation plans should be posted for Fire and Natural Disasters. The childproofing should be age appropriate for all the children within the providers care.
- Environment: A quality childcare environment should offer: age appropriate toys & activities; space for resting, designated areas for eating, potty training and diapering, quiet & messy play; and access to safe outdoor play areas that allow development of gross motor skills. The interior play areas should provide activities that meet the needs of all the children in the group.
- Growth and Development: Programs that care for a large number of children with too much activity and noise can affect your child’s growth and development by over stimulating them. Infants and toddlers can be greatly affected by their surroundings, especially those who are being introduced to a childcare setting for the first time. As you tour a caregiver’s home or center, ask yourself: Will my child thrive in this program? Are the activities and surroundings consistent with a nurturing atmosphere? Do the children currently enrolled appear to be happy? Does the program offer what you believe your child needs to grow and develop into a happy well adjusted child?
- Group Size and Age Span: Each childcare program offers a different age range and number of children within their setting. To determine the appropriate group size for your child, ask yourself how many children you want your child exposed to each day. Will the caregiver be able to provide quality care for all the children in the program? What age span of children do you want your child interacting with on a daily basis? Finding a program that places your child in the middle of the age group can offer an excellent balance, allowing them to learn from the older children and teaching them how to interact with younger children.
- Communication and Shared Philosophies: The caregiver should be easily approachable and have the ability to address any concerns regarding your child’s development and well-being. The provider should also be able to effectively communicate with your child. Consider the parenting philosophies that are most important to you and compare them to those advocated by the caregiver. Finding a childcare program that offers similar philosophies will provide both stability and consistency in your child’s life.
- Interviews and Visits: The childcare program you select must meet the needs of both you and your child. Your first course of action should be to interview the caregiver by phone. If you feel that the program meets your requirements, schedule a face to face interview within hours of operation. The first appointment should be without your child, so you can focus on what the program has to offer. Should you feel the program is acceptable, set up a second visit with your child. Do not hesitate to ask questions. Request a list of references for both currently and previously enrolled children.
- Written Policies & Procedures: Every caregiver should offer written policies and procedures regarding the operation of their program. Request a copy of the caregivers policies, including a written contract listing hours of operation, rates, rules, policies, pay dates, and closures. It is very important to have a clear understanding of the policies and procedures to ensure that coincide with your schedule. To prevent misunderstandings once your child is in the providers care, ask any questions you may have, before you sign any agreements or authorization forms.
- Use your instincts: Only you can determine the best setting for your child. If something doesn’t feel right or you have any doubts, then your child does not belong with that caregiver. It will take time, research, and patience to find the provider you feel offers the best program for your child.