Finding the Right Daycare

Choosing a daycare is a big decision.  It is really hard to think about trusting someone else to care for your child. However, you are not alone.  And because there are lots of working families, there are many options out there for daycare. There are a variety of daycare centers that can fit the needs of your schedule and provide excellent care. You just need to find a place that fills your family’s needs and where you feel comfortable leaving your child. 

When you decide that you will be using a daycare center for your childcare, make sure you get the process started as soon as you can.  Most centers have a wait list, and if you need infant care, that wait list can seem extremely long.  There is a joke about telling the daycare that you are pregnant before you tell your husband!  Obviously, that is a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s not far off.  You need to begin early if you want to be able to have your child start daycare when your maternity leave is over.   

The first thing to consider is what kind of daycare center you are looking for. There are a lot of different types of daycare available.  The first thing you need to decide is what you are looking for.  Do you need a full-day program or a half-day program?  Will your child be attending Monday through Friday or just a few days a week?  What hours do you need?  Are you looking for a daycare center or an in-home daycare? Would you like to have your child at a faith-based daycare? There are all different types of programs and centers available.  Defining your needs and desires will help you narrow down your options. 

Once you narrow down your options, it’s time to do some research.  Ask your friends, neighbors, and co-workers about what they have heard regarding the daycares you are considering. Someone you know is sure to have some insight, or can connect you to someone who might know more about them. This will help you along with your decision making. 

Next, you will need to prepare a list of questions to ask when you interview each center. Here is a list for you to consider.  You may think of other things as well, and don’t hesitate to ask about anything you feel is important.

    What is the cost?

    Is there a wait list and about how long is it?

    What is your accreditation?

    What is the staff-to-student ratio?

    How long has your staff been working at the center?

    What are the staff education and training requirements?

    How is the staff screened before they are hired?

    What is the discipline policy?

    Is there a curriculum that is followed?

    What security measures are in place?

You can make an appointment to tour the facility and meet the director and staff. Use this time to ask all your questions and get a feel for the place.  Keep in mind, you will also want to be sure to drop by unannounced at some point as well.  This will give you a better idea of how things run in the center on a daily basis and give you peace of mind that things are consistent, whether they are expecting you to drop by or not.   

Once you have done all of your tours, talked to people about the daycares and dropped in unannounced, it’s time to make a decision.  Be sure to weigh the pros and cons of each place, but also trust your gut. You need to use the intuition you have as a parent to help you with this choice.  Trust the feeling you have about which place will be the best fit.  The combination of making an informed decision and trusting your gut feelings will guide you to the right place for your family. 


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