It is hard to believe that four years ago I was waddling around Dalton looking at daycare centers for my son Tallen. It was an exciting time, yet, a stressful time. Will he be safe? Can we afford this? Decisions, decisions, decisions. My head was spinning.
To help you make this decision and to minimize your head spinning here are tips to get you started.
1. Research the daycare facilities in your area. In the state of Georgia, you can go to the website Bright from the Start. http://decal.ga.gov/. This is a great source to research licensed daycare centers, get overviews and read state reports. I’m sure other states have similar resources.
2. Once you have pinpointed a few daycare centers to visit, call and schedule a tour. While visiting, pay attention to how the staff interacts with the children. Are they warm, loving and responsive?
3. Check the policies. Are the proper ratios being followed? Are there age appropriate items in the designated rooms? How are children disciplined? Is there a lot of turnover? Children need consistency. Are the rooms clean, child proofed? Are meals prepared? Where are the meals prepared? Are the teachers certified in first aid/cpr? Have they met their criminal clearances? Is there a curriculum? What is the payment policy?
4. Pop Call, what I have dubbed “popping up and not calling.” Drop in unexpectedly and check things out.
5. Word of mouth is great. When I was pregnant, I asked fellow moms and local Daltonian’s what daycare centers they recommend. They were very candid and told me what daycare centers to steer clear of.
6. Last, but certainly not least, go with your gut. You will know either way if you want to leave your child at the daycare center or not.
After you have chosen a daycare center, I would also recommend keeping open lines of communication with your child’s caregiver/teacher and always be open to change.