Everyone has heard the horror stories of child abuse at the hands of an au pair or other type daycare provider. You don’t want your children to become victims. You can take measures to ensure, to the best of your ability, that this doesn’t happen.
There are many, many considerations you will need to weigh heavily before you deposit your child in the hands of a stranger. Below are some issues you’ll want to deliberate on when selecting a daycare provider:
* Will you hire someone to come in and watch your children, or will you take your kids to a daycare provider? Regardless, you’ll need to make sure that the daycare provider is a U.S. citizen, or that the daycare provider has legal papers to work in the U.S.
* If taking your children to a daycare center or provider, do you want the location to be near where you live or where you work?
* Is it important to you to have your child around a lot of other children or just a few?
* Make a list of your preferences.
* Ask neighbors, friends and family members if they know of a good provider.
* Call Childcare Aware Hotline at (800) 424-2246 to find a local provider network near you. The local provider network will refer you to local registered or licensed daycare providers.
* Once you have decided where you want your daycare provider located (near home or work), decide on three providers to research. Prioritize your list from one to three based on the limited information you have about the providers.
If considering an in-home daycare:
* How old is the daycare provider? Sometimes it works out better for you if the daycare provider is around your own age. You may have more in common and have a better rapport with someone who is closer to your own age.
* Check the ages of the children in the daycare. It is typically a more conducive environment for your child if there are other children your own child’s age.
Talk to the daycare provider and obtain the following information:
* At least three references of parents who have used the daycare for over a year.
* Find out if you can you drop by unannounced at anytime. If not, ditch the daycare. If so, visit several times unannounced at different periods over several weeks’ time – e.g., during after snack time, during lunch, during naptime. Make sure one of your visits is when parents are dropping off their children, so you can talk to the parents. Ask them why they use the center and how satisfied they are with the care provided.
* Tour the center. Is there a play area outside with play equipment? Is there also a designated play area inside? Is there a separate area for the babies as opposed to the older children? Several baby beds? Is there a separate quiet nap area for the older children? Mats for napping?
* Ask about learning activities for your child’s age. Request the weekly agenda of activities and menu for meals. Make sure you visit during one of these events and meals.
* Does your child have any special needs? If so, make sure the provider is able to accommodate them.
* Is the provider licensed? If the state in which you live requires licensing, then do your homework and check with the state to see if the daycare provider is licensed. Also, ask if there are any noted problems with the daycare. There are typically some exceptions to the day care licensing laws – e.g., two or less children 20 hours or less a week, providing care for relatives.
* Is the provider insured? You’ll want to ask for a copy of their insurance of certificate, and call their insurance provider to make sure it is currently in force.
* Also, do a search on the Internet for any positive or negative information on the daycare center and its director. It is possible you may find something.
* There are childcare associations that require accountability that you may want to inquire of like the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) or the National Association of Family Child Care (NAFCC). If your daycare provider is a member, you are fortunate.
You can’t cover all the bases. You can, however, do your due diligence to find the most qualified daycare provider possible for your child. Once you’ve done your part, decide on the daycare provider that meets most, if not all, of your expectations.
It doesn’t end there. Remember to drop in unannounced occasionally throughout the timeframe your child is being cared for in the daycare. If you find consistent care, this will ensure your confidence that the daycare provider you chose is the right one.