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8 Steps to Choosing the Right Childcare Provider

Are you getting ready to choose your child’s childcare provider but don’t know what questions to ask or the investigative actions to take to ensure the right choice?

If so, then this article is for you!

I know leaving your child to return to work is a difficult and sometimes terrifying task for any parent.

These eight steps will help you in the process of finding the right childcare provider for not only you and your child but also one that works with your lifestyle and situation.

Step 1 – Location, Location, Location

When searching out childcare providers, there are a few key points to consider that make logistical sense for your family. Location is an important one. Take into account where your home is in relationship to your employment (and your spouse’s employment). If you have other children in school, the location of their school may also play a factor in your decision-making.

Step 2 – Consider All Your Family Members’ Schedules

You will want to consider your schedules and what hours you will need childcare provided. This can be more challenging if one or both parents work shift work. Determining a schedule in advance will provide you with information the day care provider will require when meeting with them.

Step 3 – Evaluate Daycare Activities

When deciding between a daycare or homecare situation, you will want to investigate the structure of the day. Children thrive in a structured environment with plenty of variety in activity. Ask to see a schedule for the week’s activities. You’ll be looking for creative learning through games, crafts, snacks and physical activity. You don’t want your child to be stuck in front of a TV!

Step 4 - Licensing Documents and Training

When getting tours of various centers, ask lots of questions about the staff and training. Do some investigating and ensure that a license is posted somewhere at the centre. Ask to see diplomas or degrees of staff members and any first aid or CPR certificates.

It is important that the facility is licensed and all staff members are properly trained. An employee that is using the title Early Childhood Educator must be registered with the College of Early Childhood Educators. Information is available online at the College of Early Childhood Educators. Your children are your most precious commodity. You’ll want to make sure they are in the best hands possible.

Step 5 – How Much Will It Cost?

The cost for childcare is a very important factor for many families. It is important you know all the fees before you make a decision. Obviously it needs to be cost effective for you to return to work or you will simply be working to pay the daycare bill.

Many daycare facilities require you to pay for your child’s registration whether they are there or not. However, there are always exceptions to the rule so be sure to ask. You’ll want to check about stat holidays and vacations and what happens if your child is sick. Don’t forget to consider the weather and what the protocol is for “snow days.”

Method and frequency of payment are both points to bring up when inquiring about a childcare spot. If it works better for you to pay weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, ask if it is possible to accommodate you.

You will want to know in advance if there are any penalties for taking your child out of daycare for the summer or other times during the year. Additional fees may be required for field trips or special events. Being armed with this information will assist you in your monthly budgeting so it’s always a good idea to ask.

There are assistance programs available for childcare, so do the research and find out if you qualify.

Step 6 - Who Will Be Caring for My Child?

When speaking with your childcare provider, ask if all staff and volunteers have had police record checks performed. Next, ask about what training is required and whether students or volunteers will be participating in a co-op or practicum. If they are, this can be fine but ensure they too receive proper training and background checks.

Step 7 - What is the Turnover of Teachers?

A good indicator of a centre’s reputation is how long the teachers/care providers have been there. Studies show Early Childhood Educators do not get paid a great wage to take care of our precious children and staff turnover can tend to be high. Inquiring about this can give you some good feedback. If there is a fast turnover of staff, chances are it’s not a great working environment and therefore not ideal for your child. If staff have been there for a while, it usually means they enjoy the company they are working for and what they are doing.

Step 8 – Food Considerations

Nutrition and special dietary needs may be a concern if your child has a food allergy or if your family needs consideration for religious or lifestyle reasons. This will be one of the first questions you’ll want to ask when making inquiries. Food allergies have become more commonplace in recent years, requiring most facilities to at least be peanut-free. Egg, nut and gluten allergies are also cause for concern and must be accommodated.

It is worth asking where the food is sourced from and whether it is organic. Ask if fruits and vegetables are fresh or if they are frozen or from a can. You may want to consider if the food is prepared on-site or elsewhere and brought in. If you prefer, ask about sending food with your child for lunch and/or snacks. Every parent is different and food/nutrition may be a higher priority to some than others but it is certainly something to consider.

To some, these may be a lot of questions to ask. What’s prudent to remember though is that we’re talking about the safety and well being of your children. When selecting your childcare do your due diligence, ask lots of questions, and choose the provider that you feel is the right fit for your child, your family’s lifestyle, and your personal expectations.

Now for our readers – What questions have you asked in the past that helped you assess your childcare provider better?

Posted by Meagan Burgess Whiting in Parent, General ← Previous Post Next Post →

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