Given the range of options, searching for quality child care can be a confusing (and exhausting) process. We’ve consulted with the experts and compiled this quick checklist to help guide you as you search for the best place for your little one.
- Looks can be deceiving — while bright colours, cheerful pictures and friendly staff may give a great first impression, it’s important to go deeper.
- Ask tough questions (about the staff’s level of education and training, for instance, or about the centre’s philosophy for managing challenging behaviour) and spend at least one morning on location, while the kids are there.
- Observe what the kids are doing; if children are sitting around at loose ends, that’s a bad sign. They should be active, engaged and busy and should have a variety of play/learning resources (books, toys, puzzles, blocks) to choose from.
- Look for overall cleanliness, as well as child-sized toilets, an ample and well-equipped outdoor play area, and controls on entry and exit points (to ensure that only the right people are getting in, and that the little ones aren’t wandering out).
- Check out the menus for meals and snacks, and ensure that the food served is healthy and nutritious.
- Ask if parents are welcome to visit at any time, and how parents can get involved.
- Observe whether or not staff are warm, caring and responsive, and if the children appear to be happy.
- If the day care is located in a home, ask about how many children are in the home and their ages, as well as the other people who will be in the house (for example, relatives, boarders, or teenagers) and pets; tour the areas that are used for child care, and inquire about where the children are taken for outdoor play.