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The Hood Magazine

How to Find the Perfect Childcare for Your Family

Jun 27, 2016 11:15AM ● By Hood Magazine
By Lori Braley, AppleTree Learning Centers 


Choosing childcare is one of the most important decisions you will make as a parent. We all worry that we won’t make the right choice or that the caregiver might not give our child the best care. Parents may also worry that the child will develop a closer bond with their caregiver than the one they have with them. These worries stem from the desire to protect our children, but researching the childcare options can help put such worries to rest.

When it comes to finding reliable childcare, the earlier you can start looking, the better. Childcare spaces are often in short supply, particularly for infants. You want to be able to take your pick and starting early will help.

Know your family’s needs. There are many types of childcare options available including childcare centers, in-home daycares, nannies, and preschool programs. Look into different programs and ask questions. As you begin to look, arm yourself with the facts. Find out what caregiver/child ratios are appropriate for children of various ages, what training the care providers have received, and what type of ongoing training is required. Also, keep health and safety in mind when you're evaluating a childcare center or home daycare.

Then, turn on your computer, get on the phone, talk to friends and family, and check social media. Find out what is out there and what places people like and trust. Call the places you are interested in and listen to what they have to say.

Now, go check them out in person. Some centers may ask you to make an appointment to tour. Others may invite you to stop by any time. If you are asked to come in after hours, see if you can drop by when children are present, as well.

When you walk in, have your questions ready but also trust your senses. Do you see caregivers with children playing on the floor? Are the children being held and talked with? Are their ratios being met? Can you see art and children’s projects on the walls? Are the toys accessible to the children? Does it look safe? Can you see any cracked or broken toys or other safety hazards, indoors or on the playground?

What can you smell? Does it smell clean? Is there a lot of background noise? Is the music playing appropriate for children? How about the caregivers’ voices? Are they calm and reassuring?

Ask about the staff’s background and find out how long they have been working with children. Ask for a copy of their handbook and see if the facility’s policies align with your family’s values.  The more questions you ask now, the less likely you are to be surprised later on.

Finally, trust yourself. If you feel something isn’t right, you’re probably right. The daycare might be highly recommended but still not be the right fit for your family. Change is difficult and, although infants and children are resilient, ideally, you want the provider you choose to be a long term arrangement.

That said, don’t be afraid of change either. If the care your child is receiving isn’t what you need it to be, start your search again. You are your child’s most consistent and essential source of love and support and, with your care and guidance, your child can make the transition to a new caregiver. 


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