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How do I pick the right daycare for my child?

Often, parents are told to check if a daycare center is licensed and accredited by an early childhood program. While I agree that accreditation and licensing are important, it’s only the beginning. You must do your own investigation of the place before you decide what’s best for your child. Don’t just accept the first place that has an opening for you, or go on a center’s “reputation”. Much of your satisfaction in a daycare will have to do with the quality and personality of the specific caregivers and teachers. There’s simply no substitute for finding out about the people who will be spending hours a day with your baby.

Here’s a quick rundown of things to consider in deciding on a daycare for your young child:

  • What do the other parents say about the center? Are they satisfied? Are their children happy to go to the daycare?
  • What kind of staff turnover do they have? You want a place where the caregivers like their jobs, feel supported by the director, and stay at the center for more than just a few months. And how long has the director been on the job, as well?
  • Ask the Director how they handle issues that come up with children. Will they call you or chat with you, or will you have to wait for a letter? You want the lines of communication to be freely open. You want to get a daily verbal report on how your child's day went, and any changes in the center.
  • Talk directly with the caregivers who will be responsible for your child. How long have they been at this center? Do they enjoy their work? What kinds of children do they consider challenging? What do they like most about their work? Let them know that you will be an involved parent who is willing to be a cooperative partner in caring for your child, and who also wants to know what's going on at the center on a daily basis.
  • Observe your child at play at the center. You know your child best. How does she respond to the caregivers and environment? If the center won't allow parent observations, keep looking.
If the staff don’t seem to have time for your questions, or convey the feeling that you should be grateful to be accepted into the program, keep looking. I know it can be hectic finding daycare arrangements, and parents often feel they have no choice. I’m here to tell you that there are always options, if you’re willing to look around, ask questions, and be patient.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.