Find Quality Day Care for Your Child

By:  Debby Hoffer

Finding quality day care for your child is important. In today’s society, the stay-at-home Mom is fast becoming obsolete. Rising housing and food costs are forcing many middle-income families to rely on two incomes instead of one. Women are also more at the forefront of the work force, wanting both a career and children. Working parents often face many crucial decisions regarding their child’s care. Working parents need to ask questions and be informed on what to look for at a child day care center. Your child deserves quality care.

A State License is Not a Guarantee of Quality Care!

Most states require that a center that cares for more than twelve children should be licensed. State rules on how day care centers are licensed vary from state to state and a license is not generally a guarantee of quality care. A licensed day care center usually means that the center has met the state’s minimum requirements of health, safety and teaching training. Some states have lower standards while others are more stringent. For example, Alabama has two documents regulating health and safety in child care, while Utah has ten. The National Resources Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education (NRC) has listed all fifty states licensing requirements online. You can click on the link below to review your state’s requirements. Although licensing is not an indicator of quality care, it’s still important for you to ask to see the license and check that it is up to date.

Accreditation is a better indicator of quality care. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has a high set of standards that only 6,000 national day care centers have met. This accreditation revolves around four areas: children, teaching staff, administration, and partnerships. These areas are broken down into subareas that make up the NAEYC’s stringent standard requirements. The NAEYC accreditation process takes 18 months for a child care or baby care center to receive approval. You can find a center near you with the NAEYC accreditation by clicking on their link below.

Organization and Cleanliness are Key to Quality

Organization and cleanliness are key factors in finding quality child care. Children are generally grouped by age, babies, toddlers, preschool, etc. into different classrooms so that each group can be supervised with age appropriate activities. The classroom should be organized to support a wide-range of activities throughout a typical day. Playtime, nap-time, learning, and eating should all be scheduled in an organized fashion and the room should be set up so that children can easily transition from one activity to another. Bright, colorful decor and age appropriate toys can provide children with a fun, stimulating environment.

Cleanliness is important to each child’s health. A day care center should be clean and have a cleaning schedule in place that parents can review and be aware of. Staff members should have daily cleaning measures in place and should follow through with all cleaning rules and regulations. A high quality day care center should be cleaned and vacuumed daily with bathrooms disinfected daily or every other day. Infant toys that might occasionally be found in a baby’s mouth should be disinfected daily. Other toys should be wiped down or disinfected if not weekly then at least twice a month. Staff members should be observant and make sure that infants are not sharing toys that have come in contact with the mouth. Any counter tops or surfaces that the children come into regular contact with should be wiped down and disinfected daily. A clean, organized day care center will help ensure that your child has a happy, healthy day.

Small Classrooms and Caring Providers

A small class size or group setting is also a mark of quality day care. Only so many children should be assigned to one teacher. This is called, in day care terms, the child to teacher ratio. For example, the NAEYC has a high standard with a ratio of one adult to every three babies with a group of six or one adult to every four babies with a group of eight. Day care centers have different child/teacher ratios, many based on state laws and requirements. Parents should determine what they are comfortable with. Fewer children in a group, or a low child to teacher ratio, means more personal time and attention for each child.

A day care provider’s attitude and personality can greatly affect your child’s individual development. A day care provider will be with your child for many days out of the year, playing with them, feeding them, and supervising their learning activities. Evaluate individual day care providers on staff to determine individual quality and your own personal comfort level in leaving your child in the provider’s care. Many day care centers make back ground checks and strive to hire personable staff with child-rearing/development experience. Some day care centers provide child care training and it is important to ask about hiring procedures as well as the day care provider’s background and training.

A day care provider should exhibit a positive, personable, caring attitude and be able to cope well with meeting the demands of three or more children in a group setting. The day care center should also be supportive of the staff, providing regular fifteen minute breaks, lunch breaks, and emergency breaks with backup support if a provider is being overwhelmed by a disruptive or fussy child. Effective communication between day care providers and parents is important. Day care providers and parents should communicate regularly regarding feeding schedules, learning patterns and the general well-being of the child. Inquire about communication procedures and how the provider will notify you if your child becomes ill or has a behavioral problem. Knowing that the day care provider will contact you quickly if something is amiss can give greater peace of mind. Having good communication, a well-functioning staff and a patient, pleasant day care provider will ensure that your child is being well-cared for.

We recommend the following links.

State Requirements For child day care licensing requirements by state

The NAEYC official website Find information on a child day care center with NAEYC accreditation near you.

For information on Lapetite Academy