There are many reasons why a parent chooses to put their precious child into a quality child care centre. Whatever the reason is, there are some essential factors you should take into account when you are looking at your possible options.
1. Certification – the first thing you should be ensuring is that the center has up to date certification. Do not be embarrassed to ask the latest inspection report which has been undertaken by the relevant agencies. This will put your mind at rest that all the necessary checks and balances have been complied with.
2. Child ratio – having too few staff can put your children at risk, but having too many staff will mean higher fees.
3. Help with Childcare Costs – check to see that the staff have qualifications which are relevant to the area they are working with. For example, it would be beneficial for staff working with the babies to have some nursing experience, whereas for the older children teacher training would be more helpful.
4. Environment – is the environment appropriate for the age group who are using it?
5. Child development and learning – there are many areas of development which need to be taken care of in a child care center. These include physical, intellectual, emotional, social and creative developments. One example would be, does the center get the children to participate in game and activities which help to develop their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
6. Nutrition – a quality child care center will ensure that the children are provided with nutritious snacks and meals at appropriate times throughout the day.
7. Child safety – this obviously plays a very big part when choosing your child care center. Is the center hygienically up to standard? Are there safety gates where required? Is the playground equipment well maintained and supervised? What are the procedures in place in case of a medical emergency? Once again, do not be afraid to ask questions of the staff and take a look at the relevant documentation.
8. Continuity -a more recent development is for quality child care to be provided for your children right from baby through to after school care. Many centers these days will provide different centers all on the same property, e.g. a baby center, an under two center, a preschool center and then another center which provides care for school age children, both before and after school. This system has many advantages. For parents, they know that their child care requirements are taken care of for many years to come. The children can move seamlessly from one center to the next, already being familiar with the staff in their new environment. This is a very family oriented approach and one which parents will love and find very convenient.
9. Is your involvement encouraged? A quality child care center will make the parents feel involved in their child’s day care experience by having regular events to which parents are invited, and making them feel welcome at any time.
10. Observe – one of the best things you can do is just to spend time at the child care center and observe. Look at how the staff interact with the children when they don’t think they are being watched. Look to see the children are happy.
This article only gives a brief overview on essential factors to be aware of when selecting a quality child care center but we hope it gives you a good starting point.
by Erin Brough
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