Finding quality daycare that will meet your needs as far as hours available and location, plus fulfill your child’s needs of a warm and friendly house to go to every day means a lot of work and a lot of research.
Although it’s extremely important to find just the right
match, your definition of quality daycare needs to be reasonable. If you’re looking for a daycare provider that will treat and raise your child exactly like you would…stay home with your child.
The first thing you need to consider when finding quality daycare is location. Should you find childcare close to your home so it is convenient for both parents or another relative to drop your child off or pick up at the end of the day? Would it work better to have daycare close to work so if your child has a doctor’s appointment or dentist appointment, it would be more convenient to pick them up.
You might need to find care close to work because of a long commute. You need to be able to stay within a daycare’s business hours and a long drive time may extend the work day too much.
After you’ve decided on a general region to choose from, there are many ways to begin looking. Word-of-Mouth is always your best bet. If you have somebody you trust using a daycare and you know they’re happy with the provider, it makes trust issues much easier.
Other resources for finding quality daycare would be your local newspaper, the county’s resource & referral agency, the internet, or yard signs.
The next step is to make phone calls. Valuable, time-saving information can be learned by this initial contact.
Note: If you're looking for a difficult arrangement, such as 24-hour care or maybe very few hours per week, start your questions with that one. If the provider you're speaking too doesn't except those type of hours, there is no need to go on with the telephone interview.
If the information you’ve found so far meets your needs, move on to the next level. While still on the phone, ask the provider to tell you about their program.
Most providers have a prepared spiel they are ready to share over the phone. Not only will you learn about their program, but you can determine a lot of important information about the daycare provider.
If this sounds like an option for quality daycare, schedule an in-person interview.
Some providers choose to have the first interview without children present. If this is the option you both choose, be sure to go again at a later time when you bring your child to the daycare to introduce them to the other children and see how they interact with the provider and the other children.
You should receive written policies and procedures from the provider. Basic information can be learned by reading the policies such as her hours of operation, vacation and sick time policies, payment requirements and back-up care provisions.
As you interview with the provider, be prepared with other questions that do not appear in her paperwork.
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Marcia Reagan is the creator of DaycareAnswers and lives in Central Minnesota with her husband and two children. She's been an in-home daycare provider for over twenty years and loves to share her experience and passion for daycare with other providers.