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How to Choose a Daycare

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How to Choose a Daycare

Searching for the first daycare or even a different daycare for your child can be a difficult task to undertake. Naturally you want the best care possible for your child and worry about how your child will fare when you’re not there. To make sure you know how to choose the best daycare for your child, read the following tips.

One of the first things you should look for when considering a daycare is the staff to children ratio. Ideally, it is best to look for a daycare that has a ratio no larger than one staff person per 8 children. Really, it’s better to have a ratio of 1:6 or smaller when possible. This helps to ensure your child receives the adequate attention he or she needs. If your child is under the age of 2, look for even smaller ratios.

Additionally, check to make sure older kids and smaller children are separated from one another. This is a good practice for a number of reasons. First, it helps to prevent passing communicable viruses from older kids to smaller kids and vice versa. Furthermore, it helps to keep your small child safe from older kids who may play too rough.

Ask each daycare you consider about their policies on discipline, nutrition and illness. Licensed daycare facilities are not allowed to use any physical means of discipline or punishment. Find out what alternative methods they use. Be sure to ask under what conditions your child will not be allowed to attend daycare if they are ill. Also ask if the facility will inform parents if they discover their child may have been exposed to a disease, virus or infection. Always ask for copies of policies in writing. Don’t forget to also ask for a copy of the facility’s menu to find out about their meal preparation and nutrition plans.

Ask which vaccinations are required before your child can start daycare and whether the facility requires a physical exam.

Find out whether there are any medical or health professionals in close proximity in the event of illness or an accident. In the event there is an accident, even a minor one, how are parents notified and does the facility keep records?

Take some time as well to find out information about the actual personnel at each daycare you consider. How are employees screened? Are background checks performed? What is the typical amount of training and experience for staff at each facility? Do all staff members have First AID certification?

Don’t forget to look around the facility as well and check out the toys and playground equipment that is provided for the children. Are small objects kept safely away from young children who might choke on them? Is the playground equipment safely installed? Is there a fence outside? Look around inside to be sure the facility is childproofed and contains outlet covers for electric outlets, smoke detectors, etc. Are safety gates in place for small children? What about fire drills? They should be held at least once per month and records kept of this.

If the staff at a facility are not able to answer your questions to your satisfaction it may be a good idea to look elsewhere, particularly if the facility does not have standard written policies.

Look at the way the staff interact with the children. Are they warm and friendly? Do they treat the children with respect and patience? Do they give children individual attention?

Be sure to check with other parents of children at the facility to find out how they feel about the care their children receive at the facility in question.