Finding a day care facility that meets your requirements can be time-consuming. However, examining what your options are beforehand is what can help bring working parents peace of mind. Better Business Bureau advises parents to do the necessary research to find a safe, reliable and appropriate facility before placing a child in the care of others.
Recommendations from family or friends can be helpful, and government agencies or industry organizations also can be valuable sources of information. Your BBB provides a variety of business reviews on available childcare choices. You’ll also find an Accredited Business Directory, both are ready resources providing parents with reliable information. Parents should determine first what kind of facility they need. Will it be used full or part-time, in-home or facility-based? You should also consider the facilities location in relation to home and work, traffic flow, the hours, cost and educational opportunities for the children.
Parents should take time to visit facilities, ask about the staff’s training and experience and find out how the center handles medical emergencies. Your children may be spending a large part of their waking hours in a day care setting, so it’s important to find out what kinds of education or stimulation is offered to help your child develop.
Your BBB has the following tips to help select a quality child care facility:
· Visit several facilities or caregivers. Ask how their staff is selected and what their credentials are. What is the staff-to-child ratio? How are children grouped, whether by age or stage of development?
· Confirm that the facility is licensed by the State of Alabama or local community and whether it carries appropriate liability insurance.
· Ask about safety procedures. Determine how accidents are handled. What will happen if your child is hurt or becomes ill while at the center? Will you be called or notified before you arrive to pick up your child? Will you always be contacted if your child is hurt?
· Ask about fees and payment deadlines. Is a deposit required, and is it refundable? Are fees charged if a parent is late picking up a child? Are there extra charges for any activities? Are meals and transportation offered? Is financial assistance available?
· Ask about the balance between structured and unstructured activities, what happens during naptime? How are babies prepared for naps, and how often are they checked while sleeping? What if your child can’t go to sleep?
· Make sure the facility is clean. The center or day care home should be clean, with enough space for children to play and adequate safety equipment.
· Call at least three parents for their opinions. Contact parents whose children are enrolled in the program to discuss their experiences.
· Ask if your child can visit. Request that your child be allowed to spend part of a day in the day care center or home environment before you enroll them.
· Be alert to your child’s reaction and behavior. Allow plenty of time for adjustment, especially in the first days and weeks at the center. Call or visit the facility once your child is enrolled to find out how your child is doing, and to establish rapport with the staff.