Choosing the Right Child Care Center
Choosing the right child care center for your toddler can be a nerve wracking experience.
This will be the first time in your relationship with your child that you will be entrusting your precious baby to the care of another person or people for long periods of time. As difficult and complicated as it is to choose a child care facility, there is just no getting around it for most people.
In today’s world, few have the option to be stay at home parents, because few people make enough money to single-handedly provide for a family, therefore making the decision to send their child to care.
Logistics of the Child Care Center
Let’s be realistic. Many parents don’t put their kids in child care because it’s best for them. It’s a compromise solution that enables you to earn money to provide for your children’s needs, as well as the entire family and household.
The good news is that because there is a constant demand for child care services, child care facilities are pretty well spread out, and finding one shouldn’t be too difficult. Also, child care regulations in the US are pretty strict so you can be sure that licensed child care facilities are reasonably safe options.
Your Child’s Happiness
Bring your child with you when looking at child care centers. Let the child interact with both the care providers and the other children there. Does he or she have a rapport with the staff? Does the child get along well with the other kids enrolled there?
If your child is instantly comfortable with the center, then this choice should make your short list when narrowing down your options. Of course, some children will not be happy anywhere outside their normal comfort zone and routine, so it is important to ease the toddler into the new situation.
Ask the center director if she allows a few trial days where the toddler can interact with the class as if a part of it, while you are still on the premises.
Type of People at the Center
The measure of a good child care center is the people who run it, and most importantly, those who will actually interact with your child.
- Are there reviews of the center online or in local child care guides?
- Are the experiences you read positive ones?
- Are there negative factors you can ignore?
- When visiting the center, do you have a good gut feeling about the people who work there?
Good child care centers will have no objections to you looking around and talking to their staff and get a feel for how child care providers interact and direct the children.
Cost of the Child Care Center
Once you come up with a short list of child care centers, it will then come down to cost. If the child care fees end up being more or close to what you would make while working, then it would defeat the purpose of having a job and leaving your toddler with others to begin with.
You also should factor in the cost of traveling to and from work, as well as the child care facility. These costs can add up and not make working and paying for child care each week worthwhile.
Finally, you shouldn’t initially commit or pay for several months in advance. A lot of child care centers may offer attractive discounts for long term deals, but even with a good facility, children are unpredictable in their likes, dislikes and comfort levels and you can never be sure how things will turn out.
Everyone has different personal needs when shopping around for a child care center. Some may be able to afford more than others. Some children may respond better to one choice over another. In the end, whichever center you choose is an individual choice that works best for you and your little one.
What to look for in a Child Care Center
Is the child care center reasonably priced?
Putting your kid in child care is about bottom line. Most parents with child care age kids have a strong urge to be with their kids all the time, but necessity forces a lot of would-be stay at home parents to opt for child care. Both parents need to earn money for the family to stay afloat.
A child care service that is too expensive defeats the purpose of sending the kids to child care at all. Compare rates, do the math and arrive at a price that would make child care a more financially sound option and stay at or under that price.
Is the center you are considering close by?
A lot of people choose to put kids in child care for the sake of convenience. Some stay at home parents do it only once in a while to get a day off or even to catch up on laundry or house chores. A child care center you need to travel far to defeats the purpose and it will triple the panic if something does go wrong.
Apart from being close, you want a place where there isn’t a lot of traffic in case you need to pick up your child at or close to rush hour.
Does it come highly recommended?
Everybody knows somebody with kids the same age as theirs or a little older. And, if you don’t know any people like that, you should. Would you entrust your kids to a child care center that you know nothing about? You are bound to know someone who can recommend a child care nearby.
Does it have a good staff?
A good child care center will have no reservations about letting you interview their staff. Ask about training and previous experience, but also try to get an idea of how they intend for your kids to spend their time there. Good caregivers will have a lot of great ideas.
Are the facilities sanitary and safe?
Clean new and baby-safe facilities are a good indicator that the center you are taking your child to cares enough about kids to make sure that their facility is safe, conducive to both fun and rest, as well as a little learning.