One of the toughest tasks working parents face is finding child care. Is the facility safe? Will my kids be well-cared-for? Can I trust the caregivers?
Whether you are considering a commercial day care center or a home-based caregiver, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises you check it out carefully. And by all means, ask questions.
Here are 5 important questions to ask—and 6 signs of trouble—when shopping for the perfect place for your kids.
1. Ask about the child-to-staff ratio.
The fewer children each staff member is responsible for, the better. A ratio of one staff person for six to eight small children or 10 to 14 older children is considered OK.
2. Ask about policies.
What are the center’s policies on issues such as discipline? Ask for a copy in writing.
3. Ask about medical care.
- How is medicine given?
- When must children stay home because of illness?
- Does the center have a sick room for children with minor illnesses?
- Is there a nurse or doctor to help with medical care?
4. Ask about staff training.
Are staff members trained in basic first aid, child development, and preventing illness and injury?
5. Ask about safety.
- Are poison control phone numbers and ambulance phone numbers clearly posted?
- Does the playground have impact-absorbing surfaces, such as wood chips, under the swings and slides?
- Are the children protected from strangers?
- Are there smoke alarms throughout the building?
The following signs may be cause for alarm, the AAFP says:
- The staff cannot answer your questions and address your concerns to your satisfaction.
- Parents cannot be involved in the day care practices.
- Your child is not happy at day care.
- The staff turns over often.
- There is no written copy of the day care policies.
- Other parents tell you about problems or concerns with the day care center.