How To Choose Childcare
Choosing the right childcare program for your child(ren) may seem like a daunting task. While proximity to your home or work may be a strong (and logical) consideration, there are many factors to take into account that can have an impact on your child, both now and long into the future. We advise parents to look at five key areas when evaluating their options…
First impressions really do matter! What you initially see, hear and smell can say a lot about the facility you’re touring. So can the feeling you get from a center’s director, the teachers, and even students. Consider the following…
- • Is the exterior of the center well maintained and free of potential hazards?
- • Does the interior appear bright, clean and well maintained?
- • Does the facility smell pleasant?
- • Were you and your child(ren) greeted warmly?
- • Do you and your child(ren) feel comfortable with the director and the staff?
- • Do teachers/staff seem to genuinely enjoy working with children?
- • Do other children at the center appear to be happy?
- • Are unannounced visits by parents encouraged?
- • Are bathrooms clean and stocked?
You owe it to yourself and your child(ren) to know more about the people you’re entrusting them with. Education, experience, time with the company, and other factors have a direct impact on your child(ren)’s experience. Consider the following…
- • Does the director have a bachelor’s degree in a child-related field and 2+ years experience?
- • Has the lead teacher had higher education in early childhood (or related field) and 2+ years experience?
- • Have caregivers participated in early childhood development classes?
- • Are teachers and staff involved in continuing education classes?
- • Have staff members been with the company for some time?
- • Is there an appropriate number children per classroom? (Group Size)
- • Is there an appropriate number of caregivers? (Adult to Child Ratio)
- • Are children supervised at all times, even when sleeping?
- • Are disciplinary actions positive, clear, consistent, and fair?
- • Have all caregivers undergone comprehensive background checks?
- • Does the center have a 2-way communication system in place for daily updates?
- • Can you receive secure updates and photos of your child throughout the day?
- • Are owners and management easily accessible to parents?
Early education has been shown to have a lasting impact on a child’s success. A quality educational program will include a balanced curriculum that aligns with the state’s early learning standards. Consider the following…
- • Is the program licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services?
- • Are educational programs certified by the Pennsylvania Department of Education?
- • What STARS level has the center achieved?
- • Does the curriculum align with my local school district?
- • Is there a daily balance of play time, story time, activity time, nap time, etc.?
- • Are there enough toys and learning materials for all children?
Your child(ren)’s health is a big deal! That’s why it’s important to look at each center’s policies and procedures as they relate to maintaining a healthy environment. Consider the following…
- • Do caregivers & children wash hands frequently (esp. before eating, after bathroom & changing diapers)?
- • Are diaper-changing areas properly cleaned and sanitized after each use?
- • Are all children up to date on their immunizations, and does the center keep these records?
- • Are cleaning supplies & toxic substances stored away from children, and are safety data sheets available?
- • Is poison control information posted?
- • Has the building been tested for radon, lead and asbestos?
- • Are medications kept out of reach of children, and are they properly labeled?
- • Does the center serve nutritious meals and snacks?
Your child(ren)’s safety should be the top priority of any childcare service you choose. Unfortunately, anyone can say that it is. That’s why it’s important to ask for specifics. Consider the following…
- • Is there an emergency plan for when a child is injured, sick or lost?
- • Is each child’s emergency contact information readily available?
- • Are staff members trained on child safety, First Aid, and CPR?
- • Are all staff properly trained on infant back sleeping and sleep policies?
- • Are First Aid Kits and Fire Extinguishers easily accessible?
- • Are there emergency/evacuation plans posted for fire, tornado, etc.?
- • Are fire/evacuation drills conducted monthly?
- • Is playground equipment regularly inspected for safety?
- • Are outdoor play areas surrounded by a fence?
- • Are proper security procedures in place for entry and exit to the center?
Your Childcare Comparison Checklist
There’s a lot to consider when evaluating and comparing your childcare options, and it can be difficult to keep track of everything. That’s why we’ve put the above checklist into a convenient PDF document! It’s the easy way to record details and compare each of the programs you look at. Download your copy now…