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Choosing A Day Care Near Me: A Guide To Daycare Centers
Just the thought of leaving a child alone with a stranger can make any parent a bit uneasy. You probably don’t want to leave your child with them at all, especially if it’s your first baby.
When it comes to hiring a caregiver to care for your child while you’re at work, it can be a tough decision to make.
Two of the most common choices are hiring a nanny or sending your child to a day care near me. In the current times, however, daycare centers have become utterly popular.
Not only do daycare centers have licensed and trained caregivers that provide exceptional support and care to a child, but they also provide children with the opportunity to socialize with other kids their age.
I will discuss everything you need to know about choosing a daycare center to ensure that you make the best decision for your child.
What Is A Daycare Center?
A daycare is a type of facility where parents drop off their children to be cared for by a group of licensed and trained caregivers.
Daycare centers host children belonging to varying age groups, allowing them to socialize with kids that fall in the same age bracket as them.
There are two main types of daycares you can choose from.
Group Day Care Near Me
A group daycare center is a facility licensed by the state and is run in a very similar manner as a school, with children of different ages being cared for in groups.
In-Home Day Care Near Me
An in-home daycare is run out of a care provider’s home – as they care for their children. In-home daycare providers aren’t always required to be licensed by all states.
So, you need to conduct thorough research and check the regulatory requirements before deciding to send your child to an in-home daycare.
Benefits Of Sending A Child To A Day Care Near Me
Most parents prefer taking care of their children themselves, but their busy work schedules often don’t allow them to do so.
Therefore, sending a child to daycare is the only option left. However, you shouldn’t worry about sending your child to daycare; it can be a great way to help your child learn and grow.
Here are a few benefits of sending your child to daycare.
Daycare centers have experienced and licensed professionals trained specially to take care of children from the early months of infancy through toddlerhood. They feed, nurture, teach, and play with your child, providing them with the best care.
Toddlers are quick learners. You can help your child get a good education by sending them to a daycare center. Daycare centers have trained professionals and age-specific curriculums that can support a child’s growth and development.
Children should be socialized from a young age to help them grow into confident individuals. Since daycare centers have many other children that belong to the same age group, it can be an excellent chance for your child to make friends and become sociable.
Hiring a nanny can be quite budget-friendly if you have multiple kids to be looked after. However, a daycare center is usually the best and most cost-effective choice when it comes to a single child.
Most daycares usually remain open for about 12 hours a day to support various parents’ schedules. Moreover, they have a bunch of trained staff members.
So even on the off chance that one caregiver isn’t available, there’s always a substitute. This is what makes daycare a highly reliable choice.
How To Choose A Day Care Near Me?
Now that we’ve talked about daycares and their benefits, you’re probably wondering about how you can settle on a daycare – especially since the situation involves your child’s wellbeing.
You’re probably going to want to choose a daycare near your house or your office so that you can conveniently check up on your child when you want.
You should start your daycare search at least a few months before you plan on going to work because you’ll have to evaluate a lot of factors and options before making your final decision.
Here are a few steps to take:
Do Your Research
When choosing a daycare center, the first you need to do is conduct thorough research. This includes searching for daycare centers on the internet and checking out their reviews. You can also search for daycare centers at the state regulatory agency website.
However, the best option is to ask the people around you. Ask other parents, your child’s pediatrician, or even other parents you meet in the waiting room of your OB-GYN or pediatrician for referrals to good daycare centers.
Inquire Through Calls
The first thing you need to do when you find a potential daycare center to enroll your child in is to call them for more information.
You can ask them about their operating hours and whether they are licensed or not – to get a feel of the place. If you feel like the staff isn’t very forthcoming about the answers to your questions, then you might want to scratch it off your list.
Check It Out In Person
Once you’ve had telephone conversations with a few daycares and gotten the feel of it, it’s time to scratch off a few on your list and narrow it down to your top picks.
Next, get an appointment at these daycares and visit them in person to see if it checks off all the basics of a daycare.
Once you get a tour of the place, you will probably get a pretty good idea about whether the place is good or not. At this stage, remember to trust your gut feeling.
Once you’ve further narrowed down your list, now may be a good time to call up or meet with former and current clients of the potential daycares to find out about their overall experience.
Many companies often lure you in with glowing recommendations, so make sure to conduct your due diligence by getting as many references and reviews as you can about a daycare provider.
Drop By Unannounced
Before making your final decision, consider dropping by unexpectedly at least once to get an accurate picture of what a daycare center is like.
When you set an appointment, it is pretty obvious that most providers put up the best possible picture to create a great impression, but it’s on a random day that you will get to see how a daycare is.
Ask About Their Accreditation
If a group daycare center is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), you can ensure they meet the higher standard.
This includes having a good ratio of caregivers to children, a low caregiver turnover, and a well-established philosophy that promotes the health, safety, and development of children in their care.
On the other hand, home daycares accredited by the National Association for Family Child Care ensure that the provider meets the higher standards.
What To Look For When You Visit A Day Care Near Me
Once you’ve screened and narrowed down your daycare options and have scheduled a visit, there are some things that you need to check before enrolling your child. Whether you’re visiting one, two, or multiple group daycares, here are a few things to keep an eye out for.
Happy Children And Staff
If the environment of a place is good, you will naturally find happy people there. Look around and notice the staff and the children.
You want to see clean and content children in spacious rooms, with a quiet area for them to nap peacefully.
The caregivers at a daycare should be energetic, patient, and genuinely interested, and passionate about caring for kids. You will be able to get the true picture of a daycare by dropping by unannounced or towards the end of the day.
A Stimulating Environment
A daycare must have a stimulating and nurturing environment that helps your child’s growth and development. There should be a lot of interaction between children and their caregivers.
You should ask if the daycare has age-appropriate toys for kids to play with and also ask for a rundown of the daily activities that the children are going to be engaged in. This includes playing, singing, dancing, learning, etc.
Separation Of Age Groups
It is important that infants and toddlers be divided into different groups. Babies under 12 months should have their own space away from toddlers and older children. This is not only for socialization but also for safety purposes.
Since your child needs to be under your supervision even when they’re heading into the backyard, the same should apply to a daycare center.
Keep an eye out for whether the doors are locked or not so that a child can’t freely roam or wander out of the daycare center.
Also, adult visitors should be closely monitored by the daycare staff, and only authorized people who are there to pick or drop their children must be allowed to enter the daycare.
A Clean And Healthy Environment
A well-run daycare center will ensure that all health and sanitation rules are appropriately met. This includes caregivers washing or sanitizing their hands before touching children; all spaces, toys, etc., being thoroughly cleaned and sanitized; proper disposal of trash and diapers; properly washing feeding utensils, etc.
Even though children are usually under the supervision of trained caregivers, there are still some safety precautions that a daycare management needs to take to create a safe and secure environment for kids. Here are some safety measures that a daycare must have:
- No choking hazards;
- Window guards;
- Child locks;
- Enclosed outdoor space for playing;
- Clear floors; and
- Smoke detectors.
Questions To Ask A Day Care Near Me
Once you’ve narrowed down your options from a few references, there are some questions to ask a daycare center to evaluate your choices.
Questions To Ask Every Day Care Near Me
What’s Your Cost?
If a daycare center doesn’t fall in line with your set budget, then it can be easy for you to eliminate it from your list.
Is There A Waiting List?
Some daycare centers have a long waiting list, indeed. Especially if you live in a larger city, some group daycares are booked for months and have a long waiting list. So, make sure to start looking earlier.
What’s Your Accreditation?
Even though a state license doesn’t exactly guarantee that your baby will receive the love and care that you hope they will, it sure does increase the chances of this happening.
If a daycare has an accreditation, it means that it meets the health and safety standards set by the government. Learning more about the individual licensing requirements of your state can give you the knowledge you need to respond after hearing your potential daycare provider’s reply to this question.
How Many Children Will You Care For At Once?
Since babies and toddlers require a lot of love, care, and attention, you need to ensure that the potential daycare center limits how many children they allow in at once.
In addition, the ratio of caretakers to children should be good enough to ensure that every child receives the attention they need.
What’s Your Child Care Philosophy?
Every childcare center has a specific philosophy around which its policies are shaped. Make sure that you’re comfortable with the daycare’s policies on early education, discipline, etc.
What Qualifications And Experience Do You Have?
The director of the daycare must possess a degree in early childhood education. Their experience in the field is a major plus point.
The teachers at the daycare must have training in early childhood development, and they must all be trained in CPR and first aid, especially the caregivers.
You want to ensure that your child is in the hands of responsible individuals that have hands-on experience in dealing with children.
Are Parents Involved?
You should inquire about the activities that parents are allowed to participate in. For example, many group daycare centers usually have a parent board that makes up policies.
Also, many daycares have some activities that require the mandatory attendance of the parents. If so, you will want to check if it fits your schedule or not.
Do You Have Policies Regarding Immunization?
There’s a chance that the daycare center you’re considering, especially if it’s unlicensed, doesn’t require children to be fully immunized.
What Are Health Requirements For Caregivers?
You will want to ensure that your child is in the hands of someone healthy. This is why you need to ask a daycare if all their caregivers have their necessary medical checkups and vaccinations.
What Do You Serve Kids To Eat?
Since your child will be at the daycare center all day, you’ll be concerned about what they will get to eat. All the meals provided by the daycare should be wholesome, safe, and age-appropriate.
Parental instructions must be followed when it comes to feeding children.
How Do You Handle Sick Kids?
A daycare center must have to-the-point guidelines about sick children staying at home until they are doing well. They should have a specific timeframe set in which a child will not be allowed inside the daycare until they’re well to ensure that other children don’t fall sick too.
Questions To Ask A Group Day Care Near Me
How Long Have The Providers (Teachers) Been Around?
This question is to find out about the turnover of teachers at the daycare. A high turnover is a red flag – it could mean that either the staff is underpaid or aren’t qualified to care for children.
What Is the Staff Screening Process?
Every staff member of the daycare must be thoroughly screened. In addition, all daycare workers should have complete health and criminal background checks. After all, you need to ensure the safety of your child.
Questions To Ask An In-Home Daycare
Will Anyone Else Be In The House When My Child Is There? If So, Who Would That Be?
Get a clear idea of who will be around in the house, including all teens, adults, and elders. Then, find out about what role they will play in your child’s care and if they’ll be involved.
Also, find out about any pets around in case your child has any allergies or other problems.
What Are The Policies For Personal Emergencies And Time Off?
You need to find out how a caregiver will handle the situation in case he/she has a personal emergency that requires them to leave.
Moreover, you should also inquire about their vacation days and ask how much in advance they’ll notify you before their days off.
Is There A Backup Option?
In-home daycares usually don’t have any backup, but it’s good to know beforehand so that you plan in advance.
Choosing a daycare where your child can learn, grow, and thrive is important. Considering that your child will be spending most of their day here, you want to ensure that you make the right decision.
Hopefully, this guide will help you cover all your bases and evaluate different daycare options thoroughly, helping you make the best decision for you and your little one!
P/S: Here are more helpful posts for you…
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