What to look for in a child care center
Picking the right child care center is important whether it’s the first place outside your home that your baby is going to spend a significant amount of time, or she is a seasoned traveler already; whether she has never been under anyone’s care but yours before, or she is a social butterfly, flitting from adoring relatives to babysitters to family friends. No matter what, the place that you pick is going to become an important part of your baby’s early development, and we understand that you want to pick the right one.
Things to look for
- Licensing: This may seem like an obvious one, but not all legitimate and legal childcare centers are licensed, since some states do not require licensing from child care centers operated by religious institutions. This doesn’t necessarily mean that these daycares wouldn’t be perfectly good choices! All it means is that these institutions aren’t required to follow state licensing standards for, among other things, staff training and qualification, so if you’re considering one of these institutions, it’s important to check out the issues that are important to you.
In fact, because licensing standards are set on a state by state basis, it’s important to check what your state’s child care licensing requirements are, as it’s entirely possible that you will, say, want a professional with more qualifications, or a facility with better safety standards, than the minimum the state requires.
- Child to adult ratio: Especially for infant care, small group sizes and a high ratio of adults to children are important for making your baby’s childcare experience a positive one. One caregiver to three infants is a good number, and is, in fact, the legal limit in several states.
Especially when your baby is this still young, in addition to finding the right ratio, it’s also good if your baby is assigned to one specific caregiver, whom she will be able to grow used to and connect with - someone who will get to know her well enough to know if she is acting out of the ordinary or if anything is wrong.
- Consistency: Ask the person running the center what the staff turnover there looks like. If possible, you want your baby to be somewhere that she can get used to the staff and the routine so she can feel comfortable and secure.
- Policies: If you’re planning on keeping your baby in the same center as she grows up, check in to see if the center’s policies on topics like discipline methods for misbehavior line up with your own. If, for instance, you’re not planning on using time-outs at home, but that is the policy at your baby’s daycare, that may factor into your decision.
- “How to Choose Quality Childcare.” Zero to Three. ZERO TO THREE: National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families, February 8 2010. Web.
- “We Can Do Better: 2013 Update.” ChildCare Aware of America. CCAoA. Web.
- “What You Do and Don’t Want to See in an Infant Program.” naeyc for families. National Association for the Education of Young Children. Web.
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