Finding the right child care center or an individual for your child can be an extremely time consuming process. It is always advisable that you look for the right child care well in advance. The best way to start your search is by calling your local Child Resource and Referral center (CCR&R). CCR&Rs can give you the facts about child care, and a list of child care options in your area that may meet your needs. These centers also provide you with information pertaining to financial assistance programs that you family may qualify for.
While visiting a child care center ensure that your child gets maximum benefit out of it. Please remember, choosing child care requires considerable time and effort. After all, you wouldn’t want your child to be ignored and mistreated. Here are some pointers you should consider while choosing the best child care center:
- Inquire about the number of children under every adult. This is more commonly known as the Adult to Child ratio. The lower the number of children under one adult, the better. Ideally, for an infant you would want the ratio to be not higher than 1:3 (One adult supervising 3 infants). For older children a ratio of 1:8 would be good.
- The total number of children within a group is also crucial. A small group is always advisable. For instance, a group of 8 children under two adults is better than a group of 16 children under 4 adults. The Adult to Child ratio in both cases is the same, however, it is much easier to manage a smaller group.
- A very common mistake most parents make is to ignore researching the time each caregiver has spent in a particular child care center. Children find it very hard to get used to new caregivers frequently. It is essential that your child stays with the same caregiver for at least 10 to 12 months. Do not opt for a child care center that has a reputation of hiring new caregivers frequently.
- A lady in her mid forties would not necessarily make a great caregiver. Always look at the qualifications of each and every caregiver in the child care center. A person who has additional qualifications such as a degree in education and training would be more suited. Also inquire if the caregivers attend any additional seminars and workshops to improve their skills.
- Look for accredited child care centers. These are the ones that meet standards of child care and thus are more qualified to handle your children. There are numerous accredited centers throughout the United States. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and The National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) are the two largest organizations that accredit child care programs.
While there are plenty of options to consider while choosing your child care center, you should stick to these basics. Remember, choosing someone to care for your child is a big responsibility and one of the most important decisions you will make as a parent.
Copyright 2001, 2004. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this article in whole or in part without written or verbal permission is strictly prohibited. For information about reprinting this article, contact the copyright owner: Vanessa Rasmussen, Ph.D, Starting a Day Care Center, http://www.startingadaycarecenter.com.