Picking out a childcare center for your child can be both terrifying and intimidating. From my 16 years experience as a childcare teacher, I’m going to give you some helpful tips to pick a quality childcare center.
There are so many choices out there! How do you know you are going to pick the “right one?” Here are some tips that I hope will help you feel more confident about choosing your childcare center.
Selecting a clean child care center is one of the most important things. Why? Children are walking germ factories! If the center seems dirty and cluttered, most likely it is. Make sure you ask how teachers clean up after the children during the day and at the end of the day. Ask what procedures they follow for diaper changes, and if they have a sick policy. All these things are necessary to cut down on germs.
Now, don’t be surprised if your child gets sick soon after starting daycare. It is typical, no matter how clean the center is, but that is another reason to make sure the teachers are following cleaning policies and procedures.
2. Teacher training and certification
Your child is going to be with their teacher for 8+ hours a day, on average. You want to make sure all teachers are First Aid and CPR certified. You also want to make sure they have all their necessary classes to be able to work in childcare. Degrees are nice to have, but I think experience and a good heart hold value as well.
Another essential thing to check for is how safe your child will be while in the center. Does the center have a locked entryway? Do they have cameras? Look for outlet plugs, no sharp objects or chemicals in reach of the children and safety exits in every room. Fire drills should occur monthly, and tornado drills seasonal. All teachers should have evacuation plans posted in the classroom. A class’s child to teacher ratio is so important. Make sure you ask how many teachers and children are in the room in a day. You can find ratios for childcare centers or homes at https://www.daycare.com/wisconsin/.
4. State licensing reports
Every center needs to be licensed by the state. Every six months, a state licensor comes out to check up on the center and to make sure the school follows all licensing rules and regulations. They will check for violations around the center. If there is none, that’s great, but this is their job, and more than likely, they will find something. Any violation they find, the director will make an action plan to fix it. All this should be posted somewhere in the center for families to see. If you want to check any violations before visiting the center, you can go to the Department of Children and families website and search for any child care center.
Picking a quality childcare center doesn’t have to be intimidating if you are prepared.
Once you tour different centers, you will get a feel for the one that feels right to you. Go with your gut when picking a quality child care center. And no matter what anyone has told you before, do not wait until you are in your second trimester. Mama, you need to start looking as soon as you pee on that stick. Every quality childcare center typically has a long waitlist. It’s best to start as soon as you know.
Make sure you ask questions, consider the tips I gave you, and go with your gut. Childcare can be a great social and learning experience for you and your child.