Making the decision to put your child in daycare is never easy, but knowing what to look for in a daycare can make a tough situation a little bit easier. Here’s a checklist of factors that Circle of Moms members recommend considering, and why.
1. Were you asked to make an appointment to tour the facility or did you feel encouraged to drop by any time?
Though an appointment might mean they wanted to have extra staff on hand for your tour, you want your child at a facility with an open-door policy. As mom Hanna P. mentions, dropping in at time when it’s usually just kids and staff there can help you “catch” if something out of the ordinary is going on.
2. Did someone check your ID when you came into the building?
One of the questions on mom Sharon L.’s list is “Do you check ID of the person picking up my child if they are not on my approval list?” If you, an unknown person (potential client or not) were not asked to provide ID, it’s a sign that they may not be strict about asking for identification when someone else picks up your child.
3. Is the daycare’s license posted somewhere visible?
Circle of Moms member Sam C. advises to “make sure that [daycare centers] have all the necessary licensing and accreditation requirements.” You can double check the requirements on your state’s Health and Human Services website. If the center doesn’t have their license available to be examined, don’t hesitate to ask.
4. What policies are in place regarding immunizations, sick children and accident/incident reports?
Member Chelsea R. mentioned her concern that her choice not to vaccinate her child might limit her choices in daycare providers. It’s a valid concern — most daycare centers require proof of immunization before enrollment in order to be compliant with licensing. Asking gives parents on both sides of the vaccination debate a better idea of the policy. While you’re at it, find out the daycare's policy on bringing in sick kids, and what happens in case of an accident or a child-to-child skirmish.
5. What are the staff’s credentials?
Mom Kate C. suggests you ask “What are the teachers qualifications and how often do the head teachers change? “A high turnover rate can be detrimental to your child’s sense of security, so it's important to know if there's frequent change. In terms of qualifications, ask if staff is First Aid and CPR certified, confirm that employees undergo background checks and that there is at least one teacher per age group with a degree in Early Childhood Education or a comparable program.
6. How does staff interact with the kids?
Observe the staff to see if they talk to the children, listen to them and lead age-appropriate activities. You don’t want to see, as mom Lisa C. puts it, “staff just talking amongst themselves.” Like mom Robin M., you do want to make sure your provider gives your child one-on-one attention and affection.
7. What’s the adult to child ratio?
Several moms mention that a low staff to child ratio is important. The younger the children, the more staff there should be.
8. Is the physical environment safe?
If you have a mischievous child like member Hope L., whose son kept getting out of the classroom at his daycare, this is especially important. For starters, look around for gates, smoke alarms, outlet covers, cupboard locks and corner covers.
9. How clean is the place?
Mom Jenny B. summed this up in three words, “Clean, clean, clean!” Ask how often toys and surfaces are cleaned and with what solution. A diluted bleach solution or a green, non-toxic alternative are both good.
10. What are the hours?
You could find the best daycare in the world, but if they don’t work within the hours you need, you’re out of luck. Ask how flexible the hours are, whether they take part-time enrollment and what the holiday/vacation schedule looks like.
Above all, don't underestimate your intuition. If something seems “off” pay attention to that feeling. Your child needs to be happy, but you do, too.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.