The ABC’s of Choosing Childcare
If you are not blessed with great family or friends nearby who can provide quality care for your little one when you are away, it may be a bit overwhelming to find childcare. Although it may seem like a daunting task, with a little homework, you’ll be guaranteed success that will keep you and your child safe, happy, and healthy.
First of all, it’s never too early to start looking. Maybe you’ve just found out you're expecting or maybe you’ve just arrived home from the hospital. Wherever you are in the journey of parenthood, if you will need childcare, start exploring your options. From center-based care to in-home childcare, finding the right solution for your situation may take time.
Gather your resources. These may include referencing the phone book or the computer. Most areas have some type of childcare resource and referral center. As you begin to identify possible providers, be sure to find out about licensing requirements for childcare in your area, how you can find out if there have been any violations at a specific center or home, and if there are any financial assistance programs that your family may qualify for.
Now that you’ve identified a few centers and/or providers, make appointments to visit. As you visit, take into account your basic instincts about a center or home and then be prepared to gather more information from the provider. Questions you will want to consider include:
1) Qualifications of Providers: Does the childcare provider have training (i.e. formalized education) in early childhood? Do they have experience? Do they engage in any professional development to support their continued learning in their industry? Do they seem passionate about their profession? If you have an opportunity to observe them in action, be sure to watch their interactions with the children. Do they compliment your beliefs and values? Will they support your parenting?
2) Adult to Child Ratio: The adult to child ratio simply means how many children there are compared to how many adults. The fewer children to adults, the better. Find out your state’s childcare ratios.
3) Consistency in Caregivers: Find out if there has been turnover within the staffing. Will your child have a consistent person with whom they can attach? Has there been substantial turnover within a program? The more consistent, the easier it will be for your child (and you) to develop a trusting relationship, thus allowing them to focus on exploring and learning in a safe, supportive environment.
4) Group Size: Find out how many children will be in the group with your child. Like adult to child ratios, the smaller the better.
5) Licensing and Accreditation: Be sure to ask if a program is licensed and/or accredited. Licensing means the program has met the basic requirements. Accreditation means the program has voluntarily chosen to exceed basic standards and pursue additional credentials. Generally, you will find accredited programs to be of high quality.
With these basic steps, choosing childcare will be as easy as ABC.