Years ago, simply asking a friend who sat for them was as easy as picking up the phone. Or you might find an advertisement in the local newspaper. But with daycare centers springing up like daisies, the choices are far and wide. But finding the right daycare provider to suit you need not be an insurmountable task. References from friends are still a great way to locate one that has been proven to be reputable. The internet is also a great resource, there are web sites posted by entrepreneurial daycare providers which will have information on their qualifications and licensing, etc. Local newspaper classifieds will have ads run by smaller family type childcare providers, and your local chapter of CCR&R (Child Care Resource and Referral) is a free service that provides counselors you can speak with who will assist you in locating a childcare provider, based on your zip code.
After you determine what type of daycare you need, be it in-home, drop-in or full-time daycare center supervision, there are several guidelines to follow. A checklist should include the following information, as well as obtaining references and visiting the facility.
– Does the provider or center have enough supervision?
– Are the children supervised even when they are sleeping?
– How many caregivers are there at all times (For babies, there should ideally be a two to one ratio)?
– Are the providers trained in first aid and rescue breathing?
– Are the children within a caregiver’s sight when they are with another caregiver?
– Have the caregivers had background checks?
– Is the director and teachers qualified to run a daycare facility with bachelor’s degrees in a child-related field?
– Has the staff worked in childcare for at least one year (for teachers) or longer (two years for directors)?
– Is the licensing up to date?
– Does the staff show a genuine love for children or is this just a job?
– Is there a common bathroom available for older children to use to wash their hands, before and after toileting and before meals?
– Are the diapering areas clean and the diapers disposed of in a proper manner?
– Are the other children kept up to date on their immunizations and are these records available as proof?
– Are toxic materials locked away and poison information posted?
– Are medications kept safely out of reach of children?
In addition, you should check if there is a first aid kit on the premises – there should be an emergency plan in place if a child gets hurt or lost. Also, ask them if they fire drills and is there a program in place for disasters such as earthquakes and tornados.
Lastly, are the playgrounds and play areas kept clean and in good repair? Is the sandbox clean? Is the playground surrounded by a fence? Are the toys age-appropriate?
This list may seem excessive at first, but a visit to the daycare center or family home can give you a quick overview of the surroundings, and the general questions you would ask would not make you the first parent to inquire of such. A concerned parent does whatever is necessary to ensure the safety and well being of their child, even if it means giving the daycare provider what seems like the third degree.