Choosing a child care center can be a challenging process. Naturally, you want the best for your child. When it comes to child care, quality means a nurturing, safe, and clean environment where children receive proper attention from dedicated staff. To make the best decision for your child, compare child care centers in your area. You don’t want to rush and neglect crucial details when picking a place.
Here is our quality checklist that will help you choose the best child care option.
Caregivers and teachers working at a child care center must hold proper qualifications. They should be trained in early childhood education, CPR, and first-aid. The staff-to-child ratio is also a key factor that determines the quality of care because children need one-on-one time with a caregiver in their first two years of life. If there aren’t enough caregivers at the center, babies will not receive the attention they need to thrive.
Visit child care centers and notice how the staff interacts with the children. Are caregivers holding the children and playing with them? Do the caregivers seem friendly and genuinely warm? Are the children engaged in activities and responsive?
The atmosphere in a child care center should be bright, cheerful, and welcoming. Although you cannot objectively measure how nurturing or warm is the vibe, you can tell by the children’s behavior and reactions how engaged, stimulated, and safe they feel. When visiting child care centers, look at the children. Do they seem bored? Are they caught up in stimulating activities?
Trust your instincts when assessing the vibe of a place. Can you imagine your child feeling happy there, or do you feel that something is missing? Children are very active in general, so if you notice that the children at the centre are apathetic and don’t interact with each other or the staff, this is a bad sign.
To feel comfortable with leaving your child at a care center, you need to make sure that the facility respects all safety standards and that all outdoor and indoor spaces are perfectly childproofed. Lighting, ventilation, heating and cooling should all work optimally. Electrical sockets should be covered with safety caps. No potentially dangerous items should be kept in areas that children can easily reach.
Broken equipment, broken toys, and cleaning supplies are major safety risks, so look around during your visit to spot signs of possible negligence. Another key detail that falls under safety rules is the pickup policy. What is the center’s policy about releasing children to a person other than a parent or guardian?
Hygiene and Cleanliness
Hygiene and cleanliness should be top priorities in a child care center, considering that children are very vulnerable to pathogens. With so many children in one place, the risk of infectious diseases can be high, so all the spaces should be sanitized regularly.
Ask about cleaning policies when visiting a child care center. Notice if the caregivers wash their hands before and after diapering or wiping noses. Are the bathrooms clean? Does the food preparation area look clean and sanitary? Does the staff wash hands when handling food? All these small details matter.
Another important factor that determines the quality of a child care center is the daily schedule. After the baby stage, children need to be physically active and engaged in entertaining and brain-stimulating activities. A good child care center should offer indoor and outdoor activities suitable for each developmental stage. However, the daily schedule should also include adequate periods of rest. Children need a good balance of playtime and nap time.
Look around during your visit to determine whether the center has enough toys and learning materials for all the children. Ask if the staff is trained to help facilitate learning.
Child care centers must provide children with healthy, nutrient-rich meals and snacks prepared in a clean and sanitary environment. If your child has food allergies or dietary restrictions, check in advance if the center can accommodate your child’s needs. Ideally, the center should keep parents informed about the menu.
In the first few years of life, nutrition plays a crucial role in cognitive and physical development, so your child needs nutritionally balanced meals. Discuss the nutrition plan with the director or the staff before choosing a center for your child.
The child care center will become your child’s second home, so you need to choose wisely. Use the quality checklist above to find a child care center with high standards of care, education, and safety.