Dropping your child off with a new caregiver can be stressful. But doing some legwork will help ease your mind and make the experience safer and more rewarding for you, your child and the provider. Here are some tips:
1. Do Your Homework
Visit and compare at least three child care settings. Make appointments and take your child with you if possible. Spend at least 30 to 60 minutes at each visit. Family Central posts a helpful child care checklist on its website: www.familycentral.org.
2. Be a Smart Shopper
Look for a positive relationship between the caregivers and the children. Your relationship with the caregivers also should feel comfortable and be trusting. The environment should be cheerful and, above all, safe. You want a program that fits your ideas about parenting and learning, as well as your child care needs. Caregivers should be caring, qualified and well-organized. Their license should be current and the facility should provide you with their written policies and procedures regarding illness, communicable diseases, and other emergencies.
3. Consider Economic Factors
Carefully weigh the pros and cons of each caregiver and facility that you visited. Decide which satisfies the greatest number of your priorities at a rate you can afford. Keep in mind that the highest cost doesn’t guarantee the best caregivers and facilities. Likewise, the least expensive rate does not mean poor caregivers and facilities.
4. Look for Quality
- Environment: A place that is safe, clean and up-to-date on all its licenses. In other words, a place you feel comfortable bringing your child each day.
- Staff-to-Child Ratio: A place where the teachers/caregivers are warm & loving and spend enough time with each individual child – which helps build self-esteem.
- Parent Involvement: A place that supports openness between parents and staff, and understands that family is their children’s first teachers.
- Curriculum: A place where teachers/caregivers work from a proven, established educational plan that outlines clear goals and addresses the needs of each child – so you know your child will be ready for kindergarten.
- Child Development: A place where children’s emotional, developmental, physical and educational needs are being tracked – and met.
- Teacher Education & Support: A place that encourages teachers/caregivers to improve their knowledge & skills and offers them a chance to advance.
5. Do Research
In Palm Beach County, the Health Department licenses and inspects child care facilities. To view most recent inspection reports, visit Family Central’s Child Care Search page.
6. Need Additional Help?
Contact Family Central for more information about child care options at www.familycentral.org or 561-514-3300.
(Source: Children’s Services Council Palm Beach County)