D: Daycares, and What to Know!
What do you think about daycares? Do you know of any daycares that fit ‘XYZ’? Since I can’t have you forever, what daycares do you recommend? The daunting task of choosing a care provider to look after your child can be quite overwhelming. With dozen of options to choose from, how does a new parent begin to think about having care for their little one outside of their own or their doulas hands? We’ve been there! Here are some helpful tips to navigating what to look for in selecting a daycare that suits your needs; as well as some factors that may impact your decision.
1. What is the Child to Caretaker Daycare Ratio?
State law requires that the ratio be 4 to 1 for infants 6 weeks and under, 6 to 1 for infants 7 weeks-9 months, and 8 to 1 for 10 months-18 months. Knowing that the smaller care size provide for more 1-on-1 time and attention is comforting. Check with the facility on their caretaker to child ratios, as well as their rotations and turnovers of employees. Having different faces rolling through the room often, can provide for an unsettling space for a your little lad.
2. Does the Daycare Follow a Curriculum/Schedule?
While one may think “A curriculum? He’s only a baby!” A curriculum can actually be a good thing. Montessori schools practices hands-on learning and age appropriate activities. The Montessori classroom is generally stripped of “stuff” and showcase a more independent learning-style with a neutral-toned color palette. Traditional day care centers generally start a curriculum at the beginning of a school year. They follow a more structured and routine day of play. There are set times of the day for naps, snacks, play, and learning. A set age-appropriate curriculum is given.
3. What is the Daycare’s Atmosphere?
When you walk in, what feelings are ignited? Do you feel at ease or uneasy? Chances are, your baby/child may feel the same way. Aesthetics aside (for a moment) stepping into a venue that’s warm and inviting naturally evokes a sense of welcome. Are the leaders well-mannered and have a good rapport with their charges? Friendly smiling faces, gentle voices greeting each family as they walk in, brings a nice sense of community.
4. Is the Daycare Aesthetics Appeasing?
Which brings us to aesthetics. It’s a given that there may be toys lying across the floor of the room, unhappy-at-the-moment babies, or even a smell that’s all too familiar. But glance around, is there a dedicated spot for personal items? Are there bottle piling up by the classroom sink? Is the room sanitized often? Is the environment clear or cluttered? Keep in mind that even if the aesthetics appear blissful on the exterior, if the interior is not genuine in upkeep or function, it will show.
5. What is the Cost of Daycares?
This is probably the biggest factor in choosing a day cares that’s suitable. Cost can definitely make or break a decision. Looking at all of the childcare options you have (nanny, au pair, staying home, part-time, full-time, etc) weigh your pros & Cons. Day care costs can be covered by HSA/FSA accounts, as well as tax credits. Some daycares charge by the week, some charge bi-weekly. Figure out your bottom line, and research centers that fit in that range. Keep in mind, higher tuition doesn’t always mean better care.
6. Locations of Daycares
Location may or not be a deciding factor, but it does help to plan out where you will be commuting. Do you choose closer to home or closer to work? Map out your route and figure out what will work best for your routine. Factoring in those mornings where time is not always on your side. Another factor in location is whether you prefer in-home or stand alone facilities. Both have their pluses! In-home day cares have a little flexibility in their functioning, and still have to abide by state regulations.
7. What are the Daycare Requirements?
There’s nothing like finding that perfect place for your childcare needs and then being told that one of their requirements don’t meet your or your child’s needs. Be sure to read and inquire about all the center policies beforehand. Does your child have to be a certain age to start? Do they allow you to bring in cloth diapers? What time is drop off and pick up, and what’s the penalty for late pick ups? Some requirements may be a no-brainer, and other policies may be your make or break.
8. Is There Discounts at Daycares?
Many venues offer discounts for various career fields such as 1st Responders, Military, or Teachers. Other discounts frequently given, are sibling discounts, foster care discounts, as well as vacation days after a determined length of time attending. One thing’s for sure, you won’t know if you don’t ask!
The bottom line, only you will know what options are best for your family’s needs. Make a list of all the day cares that catch your eye. Schedule a tour and meet with the director. Obtain all of the information you need. As you list of centers narrows down, I hope this information help make your searching process less daunting!