Choosing the Best Daycare Facility
If you’re going back to work and considering putting your baby in daycare, here’s what you need to know — from benefits and downsides to the questions you should ask and what to look for in a facility.
If the thought of leaving your baby with someone else all day, every work day, makes you want to never leave your baby at all, you’re not alone. It’s a big decision, especially if this is your first baby. But if you’re planning to go back to your 9-to-5, you’re in good company: According to some estimates, more than 70 percent of all moms work outside the home. And that also means there are plenty of excellent child care options, from nannies to babysitters and more. One of your best options is daycare, either through a group center or home daycare. Many centers offer exceptional care with licensed, trained caregivers in an environment where your little one will get valuable socialization with other kids her age. Here’s what you need to know about day care..
Types of Daycare Facilities
A daycare is a facility where parents drop children off, usually for a full day, with other kids of varying ages. You have a couple of options:
Group Daycare: These facilities are state-licensed and are usually run similarly to a school, with kids of varying ages cared for in groups. Some of these are run by employers themselves. If you choose this option, you’re in good company: More than a quarter of infants and toddlers are in center-based care.
Home Daycare: This childcare is run out of the provider’s home, often as she cares for her own children at the same time. While some home daycare providers have received training and are state-licensed, many are not.
Benefits of Daycare
A good daycare program can offer some significant advantages:
Continuous care: Most child care centers offer care from the early months of infancy through toddlerhood, and sometimes even beyond.
Education: A well-organized program is geared to your tot’s development and growth.
Socialization: Your baby will get lots of face time with other little ones.
Cost: If you’re planning to go back to work and need someone to watch after your child while you’re away, daycare tends to be less expensive than hiring a nanny.
Reliability: Most centers stay open for about 12 hours to support a variety of parent schedules.
Specific to group daycare: Staff is trained and licensed. And because there’s more than one caregiver, there’s always a sub.
Specific to home daycare: There are fewer children than you’d find at a group daycare center — which may mean more personal attention and less exposure to illness.
5 Steps to Choosing Your Daycare
Depending on where you live, you many need to leave yourself a little more time to find a daycare. It’s a good idea to start looking at least two months before you plan to go back to work; if you live in a big city you might even want to start checking out your options before your baby even arrives. Here are a few steps to take:
Do your research. Get recommendations from other parents (at work and among friends) and your pediatrician.If you don’t know other parents, consider asking those you meet in your OB-GYN or pediatrician’s waiting room, the playground or a mommy-and-me class. You can also check online resources for childcare referral services or with the state regulatory agency.
Interview centers. Screen centers and in-home daycare providers over the phone (see questions below). If the center’s hours are inconvenient or the staff isn’t forthcoming, scratch it off the list of places to visit.
Check the center out in person. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, visit in person and see if it checks off all the basics (again, see below). Then trust your gut: If something doesn’t seem right to you, it probably isn’t right for your baby, either.
Check references. Take the time to call former and current clients to find out how happy they and their kids are with their experience. As tempting as it is to rely on the glowing letters of recommendation that providers may supply, don’t. Letters are easily edited (or even forged).
Drop by unannounced. Before you make your final choice, consider stopping by unexpectedly on another day to get a truer picture of what the group daycare center is like when the staff hasn’t been prepped. If the center doesn’t allow unscheduled visits of any kind, you may want to cross it off your list.
Blog Source: What to Expect | Daycare 101: How to Choose the Best Facility for Your Family