How to find the right daycare provider for your child

small child

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.  (WOTV) — When it comes to choosing childcare there is a lot of think about.  The number one thing you can do it to properly research the childcare facility or provider leaving no stone unturned and no question unanswered.  This article provides you with resources to help you do your homework and a handy list of questions to ask before you choose your childcare.

How to research a provider

The state of Michigan provides an online resource where you can search statewide for child care centers and licensed home providers.  It’s important to choose a childcare provider who is licensed to ensure they have the proper training and safety measures in place.  Choosing someone who isn’t licensed by the state may save you a few dollars but can be a risky move for parents.

Here’s how the website works:

Step 1: Enter the name of your provider or the name of the facility.

Step 2: Enter the address of the facility.

Step 3: Choose what type of childcare facility

Option 1: “Child care centers” are classroom-based programs that provide care and education for children including child care, prekindergartens, preschools, nursery schools, before and after programs, and Head Start programs.

Option 2: “Family care homes” provide care and education for up to six children in the registrant’s home.

Option 3: “Group child care homes” provide care and education for up to 12 children in the licensee’s home.

Once you search you can see if the childcare facility has any violations.  It’s important to read what they were and how they were corrected.  Feel free to discuss what you find with the care provider if you have questions.

Contact references

mom working from home

The next step in making sure the facility is safe and a good fit for you is to talk to other parents as a reference.  Ask the provider/facility to provide you with three other families to talk to, and ask about their experiences.  This is a must and if your provider is offended that you asked, just know that could be a potential red flag.

Questions to ask when choosing a daycare/childcare provider

daycare

Availability

o What ages are accepted and do you have space for this age?

o What time can I drop my child off/latest time for pick up?

o What holidays are you closed?

o Can I choose from a full-time or part-time schedule?

o Do you have a list of references that I can call?

 

Staff training and facility licensing

o Are you licensed and accredited?

o How long has your facility been providing daycare?

o What is the caregiver to child ratio?

o Does your staff have training in early childhood development?

o Are teachers trained in first aid and CPR?

o Are background checks completed on staff members?

 

Daily activities and schedules

o Are nap times provided? What time and where?

o What activities will be available for my child?

o Will my child go on field trips outside the facility?

o How much time do they watch television during the day?

 

Meals

o Are meals provided by the daycare?

o Are snacks provided by the daycare?

o Are they nutritious meals and snacks?

o Do they allow for special needs diets?

 

What to look for:

o Are the kitchen and eating areas clean?

o Is breast milk labeled?

o Are food allergies noted for teachers?

Care

o How are they disciplined?

o How do you handle toilet training?

What to look for:

o Are the children given lots of love and encouragement?

o How does staff interact with children?

Environment

o Do you have an outdoor playground in a fenced in area?

o Are there personal cribs for each infant?

o Are there separate rooms for each age group?

o Is the staff allowed to smoke on facility premises?

o Are animals allowed on premise? (at-home daycares only)

o Are there provisions for children with special needs?

What to look for:

o What toys and activities are available?

o Does the center look well-kept?

Illness

o What is your sick policy?

o What do you do if my child becomes sick at daycare?

o What is your policy for handling falls or incidents?

o Are immunizations required?

o Do you dispense medication only with a parent or doctor’s signature?

Safety

o Is there a safety plan in place in case of an emergency?

o Are there restrictions on who may pick up my child?

 

o Are hazardous materials kept out of reach of children?

o Is there a first aid kit?

o Do they have smoke detectors?

o Are fire exits marked and caregivers knowledgeable in a fire safety plan?

What to look for:

o Are safety gates working?

o Does the playground equipment look safe?

o Where are smoke detectors?

 

Sanitation

o How often are toys washed? What do you use to clean them?

o Do caregivers use gloves when handling food and when changing diapers?

o Are children taught to wash their hands before eating and after using the toilet?

What to look for:

o Does the facility look clean and composed during an unexpected visit?

 

Registration and fees

o How do I register my child?

o I am pregnant. How do I reserve a space for my infant?

o What are your daycare fees for full-time? Part-time?

 

o Is there a sibling discount?

o What is the fee for picking up my child late?

Before you make a decision on a daycare facility, don’t forget to factor in how convenient the center is to your work or home. Decide who will be dropping off and picking up your child and figure out if the daycare center’s location and hours provide enough travel time. Remember to include extra travel time for a late meeting or inclement weather.

 

 

 

 

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