Putting a child in daycare requires a great deal of trust. Every parent wants to know that their child is being well-taken care of so they can have peace of mind while they are gone. Unfortunately, not all daycares can be trusted. Here are five questions every parent should ask when looking for a new daycare center.
Is the Daycare Licensed Properly?
The daycare’s license is one of the first things to check when considering whether to leave your child in their care. Most daycares have their licenses posted somewhere within the building, but there is nothing wrong with asking a staff member to show you the license. If there is not a copy on-site, contact your state’s licensing agency. Most states have online tools available to look up child care licenses in the state database.
Are there Cameras in the Facility?
Many child care facilities and daycare centers have cameras in the building, both to cover themselves legally in the event of an incident and to give parents peace of mind, but it is not a legal requirement to have them. Some daycare cameras are on a CCTV system, while others provide live streaming video for parents to check in on during the day. Consider whether cameras would make you more comfortable, and narrow your daycare choices accordingly. Additionally, if the daycare center provides live streaming video, make sure it is through a secure site.
Are there Any Complaints?
Reviews and official complaints can tell you a lot about a daycare’s policies, priorities, and integrity. Check neighborhood pages and Google reviews, then see if there are any official complaints filed with the state licensing board. If anything shows up, especially within the last few years, it may be worth looking into a different care facility.
Is there Enough Staff?
Daycares typically have ratio requirements, meaning they must have a certain number of staff according to how many kids are there. The ratio may change depending on the age group. For example, a daycare may require one staff member to be present for every five infants, while the requirement for toddlers is one staff member for every 10 children. Daycares with low ratios are able to keep a closer eye on children, potentially reducing the possibility of accidents or fights between kids.
How Are Kids Treated?
One of the biggest indicators of whether or not you can trust a daycare center is how they treat the kids in their care. Observe carefully when you go for a visit. Are staff members patient and kind to the children, or do you hear harsh language? At the same time, are staff carefully watching and correcting misbehavior, or are they letting the kids behave in ways that could be dangerous? Different daycares have different standards and methods of managing child care, so make sure you find one that aligns with the way you are raising your kids and the way you want them to be treated.
Accidents and injuries can happen, even at the best daycares. When children are grouped together, they may play too roughly or get into fights. These things are normal, particularly in toddlers, as they learn how to regulate themselves and interact with others. So long as staff members keep a close eye and separate kids or correct behavior when necessary, minor injuries may not be a big deal.
However, major or frequent daycare accidents may be cause for concern. If a child comes home with unexplained bruising or other injuries or refers to teachers or staff as “mean” without explaining why, the explanation may be innocent – but it is worth taking a closer look at the daycare.