Many working parents today entrust the care of their young children to day care facilities. The quality of care a child receives in a child care center depends a great deal on the particular center parents choose. Knowing what to look for in a day care center can help parents make wise choices that will benefit their kids. A facility with the following features is more likely to be a safe and reliable environment.
A reputable facility will be licensed by the state for the services it provides. Before a center can obtain state licensing, it must meet government standards for health and safety. NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) accreditation is a plus as it signifies the center’s standards are even higher for quality child care.
Experienced personnel, a safe learning environment, and a philosophy that promotes a child’s growth and development are common attributes that quality, accredited day cares share. Such attributes give them an edge over their competitors in providing quality care. Accreditation alone cannot guarantee the safety and welfare of children receiving day care services. It does, however, provide parents with greater confidence in the facility the choose to care for their children.
Before selecting a child care center, parent should tour the facility personally to check out the environment for cleanliness, child safety, and security. At the same time, parents can observe caregivers in action to see how they interact with the children in their care.
Parents should note if the facility’s resources (including books, toys, tricycles, playground equipment, etc.) are age-appropriate and well-maintained. Small toys in the hands of young children can be dangerous if swallowed. Similarly, old or worn playground equipment increases the risk of accidents. For example, Creative World School Three Oaks in Estero, FL stocks each classroom with only safe, age-appropriate furniture, tools, and toys.
Child safety should be a priority when selecting a day care. A facility with gated stairways, window guards on upper floor windows, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, covers on electrical plugs, and an emergency exit plan offers greater security for caregivers and children. The center should follow strict security measures for coming and going so children cannot wander off on their own. There should also be a system for monitoring adult visitors to protect children from abduction or harm.
Children will be happier in a day care that provides opportunities for learning. A stimulating environment will keep children busy and challenged as they develop new talents and skills. Parents should inquire if the center offers such activities as reading, singing, dancing, arts and crafts, and group games, as these activities contribute to a child’s development. An environment filled with positive interaction between teachers and children is more conducive to learning.
A day care with ample staff and experienced caregivers is more capable of providing children with the supervision they need. Ideally, the child-staff ratio of a facility offering infant care should be at least 3:1, or in other words, three infants per caregiver. Centers caring for 2-year olds should have a child-staff ratio of 4:1, while the child-staff ratio for the care of 3-year olds can be as high as 7:1.
Day care staff and caregivers should be well trained for their profession. Caregivers with child development skills or a degree in early learning education will be better qualified to provide quality child care services.
High Cleanliness Standard
A well-run child care facility will uphold a high standard of cleanliness to promote good health among children and staff. Caregivers and children should wash their hands after outdoor play or using the restroom and before meals. The kitchen should be kept clean and tidy at all times to prevent bugs. Bathrooms and common play areas should also be cleaned periodically to avoid the spread of germs. Children who are sick with fever, infections, or diarrhea should not be allowed to attend the day care until they are well and immunizations should be kept up to date.
Although no day care center can guarantee the health and safety of their children, a good one will maintain a high health standard to reduce the risk of sickness and injury. Choosing a facility with strict health rules gives parents greater assurance in the quality of their children’s care.
By taking the time to research their options and visit day cares in their area, parents are more likely to find a facility where their children will be happy, healthy, and well cared-for for the duration of their stay.