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Choosing a Daycare
Choosing the right childcare program can be a daunting task. It is imperative that you, the parent, know that your child is getting the best care possible while you are at work. Choosing that environment can be difficult, especially with many types of care available. The following suggestions and tips will make your decision simpler.
When looking at childcare facilities, and taking the initial tour of the Centre, you may feel a sense of "information overload." The following list of questions and/or things to look for will assist you in finding the information needed to make an informed choice. In addition to this, pay close attention to the person giving the tour, the types of information shared, and the reactions to your questions or the observations that you make.
- Is the Centre clean, warm, and inviting?
- Am I greeted upon arrival?
- Are the children happy, involved, playing?
- Is the staff friendly?
- Is the environment safe?
- Are toys checked regularly to ensure safety?
- Is the Centre licensed by the Ministry of Community and Social Services?
- What are the fire and health regulations of the Centre?
- Does the outdoor area appear safe and properly fenced?
- Is the environment at the children's level; e.g., sinks, toilets, windows, and equipment?
- Is the playground space separated according to groups; i.e., toddler and preschoolers?
- Do the children have access to the kitchen?
- What training does the staff have?
- Is the staff certified in First Aid and C.P.R.?
- Is the staff warm and affectionate with the children?
- Does the staff seem to be enjoying themselves?
- Is the staff aware of all policies and procedures?
- What is the staff/child ratio in each room?
- How does staff communicate with parents?
- Is there a cook?
- Does all staff have a criminal reference check?
- Does the Centre provide an anti-bias curriculum that is suitable to all children?
- Does the Centre's program follow themes? If so, what are some examples?
- What is the Centre's philosophy?
- Are there a variety of activity areas?
- Is there a sufficient amount of toys so that they can be regularly rotated?
- What is the daily schedule?
- Is the program stimulating and interesting?
- Are the children encouraged to develop self-help skills?
- Do the children take walks?
- What field trips are taken, if any?
- Do the children take naps? What if a child does not sleep?
- Does the Centre maintain confidentiality?
- What is the Centre's policy regarding child sickness?
- What is the Centre's policies regarding adverse weather conditions?
- What are the rules about releasing children to people other than registering parent(s)?
- What are the policies regarding administering medication?
- How often are fire drills conducted?
- What about toilet training?
- What is the Centre's philosophy on behaviour management?
- What behaviour is unacceptable?
- Does the Centre use time-out?
- What is the menu, and how often does it change?
- Does the Centre follow the Canada Food Guide when planning meals? · How does the Centre deal with children's allergies?
- Are the parent's allowed to send food for their children?
- What are the sanitary procedures?
- What does the centre use as a disinfectant for change tables, toilets, etc.?
- Are there sufficient supplies to maintain proper sanitary conditions; e.g., soap and towels at each sink?
- Are parents welcome to come to the Centre at any time throughout the day?
- Are the parents welcome to pick up their child; e.g., for lunch or appointments, and later return their child to the Centre?
- Are parents welcome to attend field trips with the children?
- Is the parent welcome to call the Centre at any time?
- What makes this Centre unique?
- Do the parents provide diapers?
- What do the parents send with their child daily?
- What are the fees for childcare? (including late fees)
- When does the Centre open and close?
- Is the Centre closed for any holidays?
- Is part time care available?
- Is transportation available; what is the cost of transportation?
- Does the parent pay for absent days, holidays?
- Are the children's arrival and departure times recorded daily? Do parents sign their children in and out?
Through the use of these questions as well as through your observations and impressions, you will be able to weigh what you're looking for against what is being offered, and make the right childcare choice for you and your child.
Garry Foster is the Director of Operations for Simply Kids Inc., a neighbourhood child development and learning centre in London, Ontario. Phone: (519) 451-9004 or Email email@example.com.
Published in Networking Today, May 2003.
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