What should you look for in a Childcare Agency or Daycare Facility?
I think the first question to ask yourself is “Do you want to put your child in a large daycare facility, or look for someone who offers daycare out of their home?”
The smaller childcare setting is good because your child may get more individualized attention. Also, in most cases it’s less expensive than a large daycare center. The one big drawback to in-home daycare is that when the provider takes time off, you need to line up alternate care for your kids. Plus, in-home childcare is less structured than a licensed, accredited, childcare facility. The quality of the education will usually be of lesser quality than a larger facility (this is a generality…I am sure that there are very competent and educated people who own in-home daycares). Larger facilities will have continuing education for all their teachers and resources to pull together that will be lacking in an in-home childcare setting with only one caregiver.
If you don’t have family that live close by to help out on those occasions where your in-home daycare owner has to take time off, or if your work schedule is inflexible, then a regular daycare center might be a better fit for you. The hours are usually longer, (A to Z in Jeffersontown, Ky is open for 12 hours everyday Monday through Friday) plus, they’re usually open during inclimate weather and able to accommodate staff taking time off.
To find a provider, start with your state’s Department of Human Services (or the equivalent) to find licensed providers. Always make sure the provider is licensed. That is the scariest thing about in-home childcare providers. Kentucky has a website which will take your address, and then provide a map of nearby licensed childcare providers. Some people advertise in-home daycare on websites like Craigslist, but that is not a good option because you have no idea if they’re licensed, follow any kind of an approved meal plan, curriculum, or what kind of people they are. Another good place to find childcare centers is the Better Business Bureau. The Louisville Kentucky Better Business Bureau website will also have any complaints that have been filed against the provider.
One thing that worries me is that there is no accountability for in-home childcare centers. They should be inspected by the state once per year…but what about the other 364 days? There are no checks and balances and no one to help in times of need either…or to witness anything that might be detrimental to a child (emotionally or physically). Lastly, laws vary for in-home daycare too. Usually they may have up to 6 children, with no more than 2 of them under 24 months old, but you should check your state’s requirements at the Ky Department of Childcare Services or click http://chfs.ky.gov/dcbs/dcc/. A half a dozen children in a facility will not help your child develop social skills that they will need in the future.
With an in-home provider, you want someone who is one of those people who has a gift for working with children. You usually know after talking to them for 30 minutes to an hour. That is the average time a tour takes in our facility. We make sure we give the parents any and all information that we can in order to help them make the best decision for their family and for their child. Just because you get that “warm fuzzy” feeling about an in-home childcare facility, be careful. Still analyze the situation logically and thoroughly. I have seen a lot of daycare owners who run childcare businesses out of their home. Some do a wonderful job, others are questionable. They all seem great…but wait until there is a problem…or you have a concern…or question their methods for learning discipline, etc. Then the true colors usually come out and it isn’t pretty.
Make sure the house is very child friendly, clean, and organized (no food lying out, diapers not thrown away properly, trash not in its place). The center should be arranged and kept in order to promote a proper learning environment for the child. Also, separate rooms for different centers and activities. If you you are going serve your children food in the kitchen, then that should be for eating only. It should not be used for reading, spelling, arts and crafts and eating too. That is typical in some in-home daycares because there is no oversight. Also, there needs to be a limit to the amount of purposes a room has. This adds more organization and professionalism to the childcare center.
Ask about arts and crafts. There should always be lots of crafts and learning activities planned. There should be a large playground with age appropriate equipment. All kids should get to play outside everyday (weather permitting) in order to develop social skills and increase their fitness levels. TV is ok in a limited amount, but I would limit it to pick up and drop off times only. Those times are the most hectic and there isn’t much learning to be done with the interruptions of parents walking around getting their children ready to leave.
Choosing the right childcare center is very important because child care center and early learning has a huge impact in a child’s mental, emotional, and moral development.
So, finally, here is the rest of your Childcare Checklist: The following serves as a guide and checklist (in addition to all of the great childcare resource material mentioned previously). This is what else you should consider when choosing a child care center for your child:
- High level of care: A caring environment is a must. Children should not feel isolated. Friendly staff to care for every need of children is important.
- Qualified teachers: Trained and qualified teachers to impart best possible education and curriculum model.
- Facilities and Infrastructure: Separate playroom, art room, music room is essential for child’s all round development.
- Nutritious and Hygienic food: A balanced diet must be taken care of in growing years. Children are high in energy and spirit and proper and timely meals are utmost important.
- How long can my child stay during the day? Most states have laws that limit the amount of time a child is in a daycare facility.
- How is childcare tuition paid? Cash, check, credit or debit card or electronically through a childcare app or other tuition management software.
- Are there late fees? When does the late fee get charged to my account?
- Always ask for a copy of the Parent Handbook. If they do not have one, or it looks like it was project for the preschool class, then I would wonder if the facility is the right place to leave my child.
- Is there a security access code to enter the facility? Or, can anyone walk in if the door is unlocked?
- Does the center offer a free week for the parents to use to go on vacation?
- Is tuition still due if my child is absent?
- Is there a late pick up fee if I pick my child up after a certain time?
- How many children is your center licensed for? (A to Z Preschool and Childcare is licensed for 57 children)
At A to Z Learning Center and Childcare, we focus on all of these points plus some more that aren’t mentioned. For example:
- Teaching children manners and proper etiquette.
- Teaching children to respect authority and authority figures.
- Currently offering a new program that we are implementing that teaches children as young as 2 years old to read!! Our goal is to have all kids reading above grade level by the time they enter the first grade.
- Most of all we want to ensure healthy development and encourage a love of learning in children.
- Does the staff identify learning difficulties? Our staff can identify children with special needs (for example children with dyslexia, speech issues, autism, behavioral, etc.) and help connect them with therapists, programs, and schools that will help them. If it’s something that we cannot diagnose, then we reach out to therapists who partner with our facility, or sometimes we consult with them to corroborate and validate any difficulties we notice while the child is under our supervision. We have a large network of reputable individuals that help children excel everyday.
Childcare centers perform a great job of supporting working parents when it comes to taking care of their children. This a small list that we put together to help our prospective parents. Feel free to contact us if you have any suggestions and we will add your comments to our list.
***If you’d like to learn more about us, visit our website www.a-zchildcareky.com or schedule a tour. We are a local, family owned business that has been in the community for 14 years. We are located at 6100 Billtown Rd, Louisville (J-Town) Ky, 40299. One mile north (off the Billtown Road Exit) on Gene Snyder Freeway