Expectant parents have a lot on their minds from shopping for playpens, to stocking up on diapers, to baby proofing the house. They also have to make a decision about child care. If both parents are going back to work after the baby’s arrival, one thing that must be added to the checklist is finding high-quality child care.
To assist parents in your search for the best child care provider Sue Adair Director of Education for The Goddard Schools has given us a number of factors to consider:
The best time to begin researching child care providers for your infant is before your child is born. It might sound a little silly to begin your search so early, but there are a few good reasons to do so. Many families reserve their children’s spots early on, creating long waiting lists at many child care providers. A mom-to-be who waits until the last trimester may encounter some restriction in going out and taking a tour, especially if she needs bed rest. The sooner you find a provider that you are comfortable with, the sooner you can relax and enjoy the time with your newborn.
Another factor to consider is location. You may feel more comfortable having a child care provider close to home, but you’ll need to think about whether this creates problems with picking your child up on time after work due to traffic. You could also choose a location closer to your work, but this could create problems if you ever work from home. If you choose to breast feed, it is more practical to pick a location near your workplace, this way you may be able to go to your baby and nurse. Find out the designated area for breast feeding and if there is a quiet place where you can do this. A few other questions to ask is which parent will be primarily responsible for dropping off and picking up your child, or will you share that role. If you’re sharing the role perhaps you should find a child care provider that is centrally located.
Health & Safety
There is nothing more important than your child’s safety, and when it comes to health and safety there is no question too big or small. Find out if proper hand washing techniques are being utilized. Go ahead and ask about diapering procedures, and whether the location is cleaned every day by a professional. Be clear about any illness policy that determines when children are too ill to attend. Take a tour and see for yourself if the environment is clean and inviting. With all of the concern over immunizations these days, it’s important to ask if the school requires a medical screen and updated immunizations in order to enroll a child, and if the teachers have to provide a medical screen as well.
Director and Teacher Qualifications
You’ll certainly want to find out if the school employs teachers with education and experience in Early Childhood Education. Don’t assume that the school requires ongoing teacher training and development, ask about their plans for ongoing professional development. Make sure to inquire whether teachers are required to have first aid/CPR training. It’s important to know if children are supervised by sight and sound at all times and if the group sizes are small. Smaller group sizes and low teacher-to-child ratios ensure better supervision and safety. These ratios vary from state to state, so inquire about regulations.
Getting a third party opinion is not a bad idea either. You shouldn’t base your decision solely on that, but getting input from friends and family definitely helps in making a decision. To get a real sense of what the typical day is like at the child care provider, you should also make it a point to visit during hours of operation. Plan ahead by asking about other classrooms as well so that you can see the program that your child will attend as he/she grows.
You can visit Sue’s blog at: http://blogs.goddardsystems.com/