Questions to Ask When Choosing a Day Care
Choosing a day care center for your child is one of the most important decisions you will make in your child’s early years. Many children will spend between 40 and 50 hours per week in day care. Because your child will be spending so much time with a child care provider, it is very important to pick a day care center that will provide a safe and nurturing environment to your child. Here are some questions to ask when choosing a day care.
The first question you should ask any day care provider is if they are licensed. Most state and counties have agencies that inspect day cares, and establish rules and regulations that govern them. If the day care is licensed, find out with whom they are licensed, and contact that agency to see if there are any complaints or violations outstanding against the day care provider. If the day care center is not licensed you should not send your child there. Many unlicensed day care providers do not have proper training, staff, or safety equipment on their premises to adequately provide your child a safe and nurturing environment.
Safety is a huge concern of every parent, and when choosing a day care center, safety should be discussed in-depth. Make sure that all staff members are trained in first-aid and CPR. Make sure that the day care has an AED and eppi-pens in their building and that they are readily accessible. Ask to see their emergency plan, and ask how you will be notified if an emergency or evacuation occurs. Look to see if they have a fire suppression system, and ask where the nearest fire department is, and where the nearest hospital is. While it is improbable that any of these safety measures will be needed, a day care that has all this safety equipment and training is likely to be a quality establishment, where your child will be well cared for.
Another question to ask a day care provider is what the staff to child ratio is. Many states mandate that there is at least a certain number of staff for every child in a day care, and many quality day cares will have even more staff members than required. Keep in mind that younger age groups require more staff per child than older age groups. Most child care experts advise that a day care have a 1 to 5 ratio for children two to three years old, a 1 to 7 ratio for children three to four year olds, and a 1 to 15 ratio for five and six year olds. Also discuss how children are segregated by age. Most quality day care providers will keep infants in a separate room from toddlers, and do not have child that are more than two or three years of age apart in the same room. Like a school, your child should be interacting and learning with children of a similar age when at day care.
When choosing a day care, parents should ask about the activities and resources provided to children. You don’t want your child sitting in front of the TV at home all day, and you wouldn’t want them watching TV all day at day care, so check what your child will be doing all day while you are at work. Most quality day care centers are setup similar to schools, providing learning and instruction to your child, and offering a healthy dose of physical activity and social interaction. Any good day care should be filled with books, art supplies, and educational toys, and should have a playground or gymnasium for encouraging physical activity.
Choosing a day care for your child is a very important decision. Make sure that you ask any prospective day care the questions above to ensure that you enroll your child in a day care that is safe and provides your child with a nurturing environment to learn and grow.