You’ve decided that a daycare centre is the right choice for your child and now it’s time to choose one. The options can be overwhelming and sometimes it’s hard to know how to begin making your choice.
Here are some things to consider as you decide which facility will be the best fit for your family:
Check your state’s licensing website for basic information – Most states maintain a website with information on all childcare providers. These sites may give you information about the teacher to child ratio, how many children the provider accepts, and a state specific rating for the center. Some states also document complaints against each center and how they were resolved. Spending some time with this information may help you eliminate a few options from your list without even taking the time to visit them.
Location, location, location – Try to find a centre you like that is convenient to either your home or workplace. An extra fifteen minutes added to your morning commute may not sound like much right now, but will get old quickly when you do it five days per week for a couple of years. Start by looking at the daycare providers closest to you. You don’t want to fall in love with a daycare centre across town when there may be a comparable one closer to you.
Compare the centre’s schedule to your own – You need to find a daycare centre with a schedule that matches yours. Rushing through traffic to pick your child up at the last possible minute will create a lot of unnecessary stress for you, plus no child wants to be the last one to be picked up at the end of the day. Many larger centres provide flexible hours for parents who work. Also, find out how often the school is closed during the year. Some centers only close for major holidays, while others close for entire weeks throughout the year. If you don’t have a backup childcare plan, you’ll probably be happier with a school that has fewer closings.
Visit and observe – After doing some preliminary research, identify a few childcare centres to visit. During the visit, observe the condition of the facilities, the personalities of the teachers, and how the children seem to feel about being there. After visiting a daycare, you’ll probably have a gut feeling about whether or not you’d feel good about leaving your child there each day.
Compare costs – The costs of childcare at different centres can vary widely. Compare weekly costs between centres and also ask about any yearly registration fees and any additional fees for extra-curricular activities that the centre offers. These charges can add up and make a substantial difference over the years.
Trying to choose a childcare centre can be daunting, especially for new parents. Put some time and effort into researching and visiting your options to make the best choice for your family. A great daycare centre is a wonderful asset for working parents and their children.