It is inevitable that most children will at some point attend a child care center. Finding child care for your child or children can be a long and grueling process and not all child care centers are created equal. The following tips can ease the process and assist you in finding the appropriate center for you and your child.
First, make a list of priorities you want in a child care center. Is location of importance, such as being close to home or close to your job? How many other children do you want your child to be around? Decide what you and your families needs are and what your budget for child care is. Then decide exactly what type of child care you want. There are many options that include:
- Home daycare
- Daycare center or preschool programs
Are you looking for a program that has been accredited? The National Association of Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accredites programs as well as the National Association of Family Childcare. You can look on their websites for a searchable database for programs that are accredited. Ohio Department of Job and Family Services has a voluntary quality rating program for centers who go above and beyond the benchmarks. Typically having three stars validates a quality child care center.
Next, start researching for providers. Word of mouth is always good. Ask friends, family and co-workers for reputable child care providers in your area. Ohio Job and Family Services can also provide a list of child care providers who meets your criteria. If all else fails, search through the yellow pages or online at here.
It is never too early to start looking for a day care for your child, start applying at least six months prior to the date you need. If you are expecting a child and know you want to put your newborn in a child care center you can start looking prior to birth since infant rooms generally fill up faster since the child/teacher ratio is lower than other groups of children. Most centers have a waiting list, so don’t hesitate to get put on a waiting list if the center is full.
Once you have found a center or provider, make an appointment to visit the center and take a tour. It is recommended to visit the center two times, once by yourself and once with your child. While visiting, ask questions about schedules, routines, ratios, fees, vacation time, discipline, feeding, sleeping etc.
Also, get a copy of the center’s policies. Observe the teachers and children. Do the teachers seem happy with their jobs? Do they seem passionate about working with children? Do the children seem happy? How does your child seem to interact with the other children. Just because you have visited that center does not mean you have to stick with it, you can visit several different centers to find the one that you and your child are most comforted in. Only you can make the decision on what center to put your child in. Of course you want to find a center or provider who loves your children just as much as you do, so follow you and your child’s insticts.