Where did the time go? You had your baby, brought him or her home, and now you’re down to three weeks before going back to work. Have you decided what you’re going to do? Are you going to have a friend or family member watch your child or are you going to put them in daycare? For most parents, this is a nerve wracking decision. Take a deep breath Mama, I’ve got you. I worked in daycare for six years and am familiar with the in’s and out’s and what to watch out for. Today, I’m going to show you how to find the right daycare.
Putting a System in Place Before You Go On Tours.
Before we get started, I suggest having a system when you are traveling from daycare to daycare on tours. I would buy several different colors of folders and mark each one with the name of each daycare you are visiting. You may even want to mark each one with a tab that you can see easily. Put the folders in a file box so you can flip through them easily and grab the right one when you arrive. That way, all your applications, questions, and information packets will be all in one place.
How to Find the Right Daycare Without Confusion.
Here are some important observations and questions to ask while touring each building.
1. Is someone there to greet you-Is someone there to greet you at the front desk or is the office door shut. In my view, client interaction is important. Owners, directors, and co-directors should be out and about in their businesses and places of work. They should interact with their employees and clients alike. If you walk in to find the office door shut, chances are it’s shut almost all day long.
2. Cameras-Usually there is a camera in the lobby that runs and shows each classroom or it is in the office where office staff can keep an eye on things. As you are touring the building, take note of where the camera is in each classroom. They are usually found in one of the upper corners of the room and should have a “green” or “red” light that shows they are on.
3. Staff/Child Ratios-Take not of overly crowded rooms. Each classroom will fluctuate due to part time kids throughout the week and in our case, the “School Age” room had preschool in the mornings so their ratio varied throughout the day due to preschool and after school kids. Things tend to be a little off during the summer too, due to kids being out of school. However, if you tend to notice an extremely excessive amount of kids in a room, this could mean the center has too many kids enrolled.
4.Staff/Child Interaction-How do the teachers interact with the kids? Are they on the floor with them playing and interacting or are they only talking amongst themselves? Do they speak in warm and friendly tones or do they raise their voices?
Questions for Finding the Right Daycare.
How often is the owner/director there?-This is incredibly important. The owner/director should be there on a regular basis and know what is going on in their business. If you find that the owner/director is never there or tends to stay in the office all day, go elsewhere. If they don’t want to be there, chances are their employees don’t want to be there either.
Do you offer a sibling discount? Most day cares will offer a discount for two or more children. Click here for more tips on saving on the cost of childcare.
How do you handle food allergies? Some centers want parents to bring their child’s food while others accommodate these needs. In the daycare I worked, we worked around each child’s specific allergy within reason. Also, don’t forget to ask about Epi-pens.
Where are medications kept? All medications should be kept in a locked box with the exception of refrigerated medications.
Do you have an open door policy? You should be able to go in and out of the building freely and be able to talk to upper management at any time.
What is your sick policy? In most cases, children have to be fever/diarrhea/vomit free for 24 hours before coming back to school.
How do I know when the center is closed? If you live in an area where inclement weather hits, this is important.
Do you have a storm shelter? If you live in a tornado prone area, it will give you great peace of mind knowing the center has one of these.
Who do I speak to if I have an issue? Finding out the chain of command if a complaint arises is important.
Do you have referrals? Ask if you can speak to some other parents whose kids attend the center.
Make sure you get all your questions answered so you can go back to work with peace of mind. However, keep in mind that if later on down the line you’re not happy, you can always find another center. After all, only you can define between acceptable and exceptional care.