A few Steps Needed to Find a Good Daycare
One of the biggest challenges parents often find themselves facing is the decision of putting their child in daycare. This can be a predicament for many parents due to the desire to be able to direct as much attention and time as possible to their children. However, pulls towards financial obligations or career goals that come up will typically leave parents in need of temporarily putting their kids in the care of someone else. This is often a cause for careful concern for parents, as there are many factors that will need to be considered when choosing the daycare that’s best for the family.
Why Choose Daycare?
Daycare becomes a great option for parents who find themselves with holes in their schedules where they will not be able have their child in their care. These scheduling issues can stem from a variety of reasons. Most commonly, the scheduling issue is due to both parents needing to work in order to meet their financial needs or goals. Especially in a child’s early years, this leaves the need for the child to be looked after for a good chunk of the day while the parents are at work.
Other issues can result from one or both parents being involved in regular hobbies, volunteer work, or career aspirations where they won’t be able to watch after their child. In any case, daycare serves to provide a break for parents to be able to best form their lives in a way they best see fit for their family.
Reliability Helps Parents feel Secure
While some families choose in-home nannies to watch their kids, there are a lot of reasons parents opt for daycare. One of the primary reasons is the reliability daycares offer. Most state-licensed daycares are open at least 12 hours and have relief staff if someone can’t make it. This gives parents more flexibility with the schedules they can work with, and ensures that they will be able to make it to work without significant interruptions. Another benefit is the structure and schedule of regular activities.
Many daycares are structured similarly to schools, providing basic educational lessons, offering stimulating activities, and providing the opportunity for social development with their peers. Homecare options are sometimes preferred by parents due to more opportunities for individual attention and less potential for exposure to illness. State-licensed daycares have the advantage of having higher standards for staff training and having relief staff. In both cases daycares, while still somewhat costly, are a cheaper option than an in-home nanny.
Steps to Narrowing Down the Right Daycare
When on the hunt for the right daycare for your family’s needs, it can be overwhelming thinking of where to start. If you are in an urban area, or simply have the means to be more choosy with your daycare, it’s best to start your search early, as some daycares can have lengthy waitlists.
One factor that will help narrow your search is figuring out a realistic budget. This does not mean aiming low or shooting for the cheapest daycare. Odds are the daycare that is preferable will take some toll on your bank account, but it will be helpful to eliminate options that break the bank altogether right off the bat.
If this still leaves only options that still don’t meet your needs, consider making some cuts to your budget, such as unnecessary subscriptions, costly shopping habits, or vices such as alcohol.
Figure Out Your Budget and Stick to It
When the budget is figured out, you will need to determine what a realistic location for your child’s daycare will be. For this you can do some research online to figure out where some daycares actually are that are near you, or on your way to work. Your ideal location will largely depend on how long your current commute is.
If your commute is already quite long you will want to shoot for a daycare that is either on the way work or is within a mile of your home or workplace to avoid making the commute an additional burden. If your commute is shorter consider how much time, and gas money, will be worth it to reach a potential daycare location.
Using tools, such as Google maps, will help you be able to estimate the amount of time your drive to this location will take. It will be helpful to try and get this estimate during rush hour times when you are most likely to actually be on the road on your way to or from work.
Once you’ve reached a realistic budget, you can focus on more of the specifics of your desired daycare for your child. One of the most crucial factors to consider is the philosophies the daycare holds.
Try to Correlate the Type of Daycare you Choose to Your Values
It’s important for the daycare you choose to line up, more or less, with your style of discipline or rewards. Ask the staff if the daycare uses timeouts, scolding, a gold-star like system, or other methods of behavioral care in their philosophy. Having large contradictions or inconsistencies between the home and daycare in this area can be confusing to your child, and will not the beneficial overall. You will also want to know details about nutrition, the types of activities offered, and the type of material they will be taught. If you are choosing a homecare option, you may need to ask about any religious aspects of the care and if they match your family’s spiritual beliefs, or lack thereof.
When it comes to finding the daycare that meets your list of desired philosophies, approaches, and styles, you may very well still find yourself scratching your head about where to look next. If you have trusted friends with children who are in daycare, they may be a valuable asset in getting leads for daycares that will be a good fit. If you get a Whether you get a personal referral or not, it is always good to do your own research online. Take some time to browse the daycare’s website. You will likely be able to gather some basic information about how that particular daycare runs. Doing online researcha can also help you figure out what other parents are saying about that daycare. There are plenty of online resources to see a daycares overall ratings and to read personal reviews about experiences from other parents.
Give The Daycare A Call and See How it Feels
The next step would be to call the daycares you are interested in. You will be able to get a good sense of the quality of the daycare, along with health and safety standards, by asking for detailed answers from the staff. If the representative over the phone doesn’t seem knowledgeable or forthcoming about their answers, or if the hours for visitation are scarce, it may be an option to cross off your list.
After talking to someone on the phone, set up a time to make a visit in person. This will give you the chance to actually make firsthand observations about the facility, the staff, and what the children will do during their day. One of the most important things to look out for is the staff to child ratio. For infants, there ideally should be one staff for every three babies. When it comes to toddlers, the ideal ratio is one staff for four children.
If you are looking into a homecare option, there shouldn’t be any more than six children overall, including the caregiver’s own children. For homecare also get information on who will be in the home throughout the day, as there could be people such as friends or neighbors who stop by the caregiver’s home. The facility or home itself should be clean with structured hygiene policies, secure with no way for a child to get lost, and spacious enough to adequately hold multiple children who love to move and play.
Give The Daycare a Visit and Ask Questions
When visiting a potential daycare site, be sure to ask open ended questions about how they would handle specific situations to get the best feel for their overall approach. Try to ask multiple staff if possible to get a sense of consistency and general quality. If more than one staff can’t give a detailed answer with confidence, that’s a sign that most of staff are inexperienced or poorly trained.
Be sure to pay special attention to how the staff interact with the children. Are they on the floor playing with the children and upbeat? Or are they standing surrounding the children with flustered looks seemingly trying to manage chaos? Be sure to ask about specific safety and emergency procedures and ask to see certifications from the fire marshall.
Take a look around for any potential hazards that may be within your child’s reach such as cleaning or cooking supplies, toys meant for older children that have choking hazards, or ways of slipping out through unlocked doors or holes in the fence.
Drop by for A Realistic Visit if Possible
After you’ve given one planned visit, another step you can take is to drop by unannounced. This will give you a more realistic idea of how the daycare operates when they aren’t expecting anyone. For an even better idea of the overall quality and safety of a daycare, stop by towards the end of the day when the staff are most likely to be in the most agitated or impatient state of the day. If the staff still seem upbeat and patient with the kids, that’s a good sign.
So In the End….
Ultimately when it comes to selecting a daycare that works best, be sure to keep your child’s needs at the forefront of your mind. Don’t be afraid to trust your gut if you have a strong feeling a place isn’t right for your child, even if it may seem just fine on the surface level. As a parent, you know that your child’s development is important and taking the effort in finding care that fits will be well worth it.