Follow these steps to help you choose the child care program that works best for your family. Begin by visiting several child care homes or centers. On each visit, think about your first impression and continue to ask yourself these questions:
- Does the program look safe for my child?
- Do the caregivers/teachers who will care for my child enjoy talking and playing with children?
- Do they talk with each child at the child's eye level?
- Are there plenty of toys and learning materials within a child's reach?
Always visit a home or center more than once. Stay as long as possible, so you can thoroughly assess the care. Even after you choose childcare and your child has started attending, return periodically to make sure that care remains satisfactory.
By listening closely and asking yourself these questions, you will continue to gather important clues on the quality of the childcare.
- What does the child care setting sound like?
- Do the children sound happy and involved?
- What is the teacher's tone of voice?
- Does the teacher seem cheerful and patient?
A place that is too quiet might indicate insufficient planned activity. A place that is too noisy might indicate a lack of guidance.
- Count the number of children in the group and the number of staff members caring for them. Usually, the fewer the number of children for each adult, the more attention your child will get.
- A small number of children per adult is most important for babies and younger children.
- The license should be posted and list the number of children allowed for each age group.
The knowledge and experience of the adults caring for your child are very important.
- Find out about their special training.
- Ask about the background, education, and experience of all staff, including caregivers, teachers, and program directors.
- Ask the same questions about any other adults who will have contact with your child in the home or center. Quality caregivers/teachers are happy to answer these questions.
Find out more about efforts in your community to improve the quality of childcare.
- Is your caregiver involved in these activities?
- Does your caregiver belong to any professional organizations?
- Has your child's caregiver achieved accreditation or completed training that exceeds minimum requirements?
- Does the caregiver have child development units or a college degree?