Choosing Good Childcare
Finding good childcare is a quest. Chances are good that you’ll have to make a lot of phone calls and do a lot of investigating before you find a place where you’ll feel comfortable leaving your child. Your basic childcare options are:
Childcare centers—these care for groups of children. All states require childcare centers to be licensed, meaning the center must meet minimum standards for health, safety and caregiver training. States inspect the centers at least once a year.
Family childcare—care for children in the provider’s home. All states set minimum health, safety and nutrition standards for family childcare providers. Generally, parents choose this type of arrangement because they prefer that their child be in a home-like environment.
In-home childcare—provided by a nanny or similar type of provider. Parents often choose this type of care because it is most convenient and because they like the idea of their child being able to stay home. It is usually more expensive than other types of care, but if there are several children involved, the cost may actually not be that much greater.
When looking into childcare centers and family daycare:
- Visit several places, at least twice for each one.
- Notice your first impression. Did it seem like a good place for children the moment you walked in the door?
- How do the children at the center seem? Busy with their play? Content? Or is there a lot of crying or whining or fighting going on?
- Do the childcare providers seem to enjoy interacting with the children?
- Does it seem like there are enough adults to care for the number of children?
- Are the childcare providers qualified? Be sure to ask them what kind of training and experience they have.
Specific qualities to look for in individual childcare providers include:
- Seem to like children
- Greet children when they arrive each day
- Have CPR and first aid training
- Have no problem answering your questions
- Have some early childhood development training
- Tell you what your child will be doing every day
Your intuition and powers of observation will tell you a lot. If a place seems too busy and noisy for your child, then it probably is. If it seems dull and boring to you, you’re probably right.
If you’re currently looking for childcare and are having a bit of trouble, you may want to visit the Childcare Aware Web site’s Child Care Connector page
http://childcareaware.net/en/findcare.html. The site also provides information about choosing childcare, licensing, accreditation, etc. You can also call them at 1-800-424-2246.