Every parent wants to make sure they are selecting the optimal child care facility for their child. After all, their child is their most precious cargo! They aren’t going to send them just anywhere for the day when they aren’t able to be with them, nor should they! But so many times, price can end up being the primary factor for choosing a facility and that should not always be the case. There is so much that child care facilities have to offer, including Precious Lambs. Make sure that you do your research when selecting your child’s child care facility. Raise the standards that you are willing to accept and know that price isn’t always the most important thing!
Factors, besides price, that should be considered when selecting a child care facility:
1. Hours of Operation
Depending on your individual circumstances, this may be a critical piece that you will need to determine. Do you have flexibility to accommodate shorter hours of operation? Or are you committed to a fixed schedule at work where you may need longer hours for child care? Also make sure you understand what the policies are for late pick-ups, as well. Even if you never intend to be late, there may those times where the impossible happens and you will need a back-up. Make sure you’re prepared!
2. Curriculum and Structure
There are so many different philosophies and curriculums out there today in the child care world, so make sure you do your research and find a facility that matches your expectations. Are you looking for more “developmental” or “academic” needs for your child? Each facility will have their own daily schedule, structure and activities that they promote, so make sure you know what the daily curriculum involves. Ask questions and find out specific things each facility would do to prepare your children for school. You want to make sure you’re establishing a lifetime foundation and enthusiasm for learning!
3. Ratio of Staff to Children
Make sure you learn more about what the ratio is for staff to children. The more staff that a facility has may mean that every child will be getting more individual attention, which could be beneficial if your child does better in small groups.
One of the best ways to find great child care facilities in your area is to ask for the recommendation of your friends, family and other parents. But even more than that, ask the child care facility if they can give you a list of potential parents you could contact to get more information about their particular center. Does the facility conduct regular parent evaluations that you can see? Make sure current families are satisfied with the child care facility and it will help to put your mind at ease that you are making the right decision for your child. Word of mouth is priceless!
While all child care centers may be a little messy with all of the little hands that are constantly in and out of everything, it’s still a great idea to take a peek “behind the scenes” when you’re taking a tour of the facility. Check out the bathrooms and kitchen and make sure they are held to standards of cleanliness that you would expect your child to be around all day long. Hygiene is important for little ones and you want to make sure they are going to be well taken care of while they are out of your care.
6. Training, Licensing and Credentials
Do the facilities that you are looking into have well-educated and experienced staff? You want to make sure your child is exposed to high quality interactions and activities on a daily basis. Ask each facility what the experience and education level is of the teachers and director. Is the facility licensed correctly? Is there a place where you can see teacher biographies to get a better feel for who your child will be spending their days with? Is there someone on staff who has CPR and first aid training? Make sure you do your homework and that the teachers your child will be with have the right credentials and experience!
7. Snacks and Meals
If your child is going to be attending child care all day, make sure you know what the policies are on snacks and meals. Will you be expected to provide the food for your child every day? Is this part of the overall tuition at the child care facility? If it is provided, what types of things are offered? How are food allergies handles and are the items they offer healthy and nutritious? Making sure your child has proper nutrition throughout the day is an extremely important part of choosing a child care center, so make sure you find one that meshes with how you want snacks and meals handled.
8. Turnover of Staff
Don’t be afraid to ask about the staff turnover rates. If staff are constantly in flux at the facility, you may be best to avoid it. It may mean there are deeper rooted problems and they are unable to find and retain quality staff. High turnover can also negatively affect your child, who may work well with a teacher who suddenly is no longer there. It can greatly influence a child’s daily routine and schedule. Having the same staff working with your child day after day builds a level of trust that helps to make a child’s day go much easier and is more conducive to learning.
Is it better to find a child care facility that is close to home or close to work? That is easier for you to get to or your partner to get to? Figuring out the logistics of how you will get your child to and from a child care center will be an important step in choosing one. You’ll also want to consider the location of the child care facility in relation to the neighborhood it is in. Is it safe? Is there plenty of parking? Is it in a well-maintained area and is it well-lit once those early winter nights start showing up? Making sure the location of a potential child care facility is as safe as possible, along with being easy for you to get to, will help to narrow down your options.
10. Your Gut Reaction
Finally, there isn’t anything quite like your gut reaction after touring different child care facilities. If you get a bad feeling, it probably isn’t going to be the center for you. Instincts are important and even if there is absolutely nothing wrong with the child care center that you can see, you always want to make sure you and your child will be comfortable with the new facility!
When you look at all of these factors together, only then can you make an informed and educated decision about what child care facility your child should go to. Simply choosing the cheapest option may not be the most beneficial for your child or your family! Without quality factors included, like the ones above, you could be setting your child up for failure. Here at Precious Lambs, we take great pride in offering a quality program for toddlers, as well as preschoolers. My door is always open for questions and tours when it’s time for you to find your optimal child care facility!