Let’s not sugarcoat it: There is a lot of stress, anxiety, and worry when it comes to finding the right daycare for your kids. It’s hard not to take notice of the daycare horror stories that get passed around on social media. Whether it’s your first kid or your fifth, finding the right daycare facility can feel like an overwhelming feat.
With that being said, however, there are a lot of resources and tips available today to help you determine the right daycare for your family. To make it as simple as possible, there are some good signs and bad signs to consider.
Let’s talk about the bads signs first.
Run for the Hills
Beyond your own particular wants and needs from a daycare (LGBTQ-friendly, gluten-free, special needs, etc.), experts at Care.com recommend avoiding any facility that:
- Lacks a stimulating environment: A rich environment that facilitates many interesting interactions is important for children’s development, both emotionally and mentally. It’s important for daycare facilities to have up-to-date toys and play areas, as well as plenty of age-appropriate educational activities.
- Offers no emotional support from caregivers: Kids require a lot of love and attention — duh! This means that when caregivers bully or ignore kids they’re in charge of, it can lead to behavioral issues. Look for caregivers that strive to teach kids by using positive guidance, not punish them.
- Has too many children: It’s not hard to imagine the chaos and potential harm that can come from a facility full of too many kids. Not only is it more difficult to keep your eyes on a lot of kids at once, increasing the chances of fights or accidents, but it also means that each kid loses out on adequate care and attention.
- Is an unsafe environment: This is an obvious concern, but not always easy to spot. As Care.com points out, “Look around for subtle clues that can be warning signs when you’re testing the waters. Do they change diapers with gloves on and wash their hands frequently? Is there proper labeling for any special foods for children? Do caregivers smoke near children or do you smell smoke? Are there safety bars on windows?”
- Is an unhealthy environment: No one likes having a sick kid; most responsible daycare facilities will ask parents to keep their sick kids home to avoid making their playmates sick as well. Checking the facility’s sick policies or looking for sick kids at the facility itself can save you from spending endless nights taking care of your sick children.
- Lacks open communication: Communication is essential in any healthy relationship — and that includes your daycare. It’s vital that the director of the daycare is ready and willing to sit down and communicate with you when you have an issue. Furthermore, if it is difficult to schedule a meeting or management is against unannounced visits, that can be a red flag of some problematic practices.
Of course all of this sounds easy enough to check on paper, but sometimes it can be difficult to spot a bad daycare in disguise. If you do happen to find that your children were the victims of negligence at their daycare facility, there are some ways to recover. As some legal professionals suggest, “If your child is injured at a daycare center, you can seek to hold the daycare center responsible for any negligent behavior and seek to be compensated for all of your child’s injury-related medical bills and for any pain and suffering they experienced.” While that may not completely erase the pain and hardship you and your family endured, you can at least receive legal support, help other parents avoid the same hurtful fate, and hopefully get back to finding a fun, safe, and pleasant daycare facility.
Put a Ring on It
Now that we’ve talked about all the bad signs, let’s look into some good ones! Again, caring, licensed, well-trained staff and a healthy, stimulating environment are essentials. You also want to look for a good ratio of staff to children.
As those at Baby Center recommend: “For babies, the ratio is one caregiver for every three children if a group has six infants, one for every four if a group has eight babies.”
- For toddlers (12 to 28 months), the ratio is 1:3 for six children and 1:4 for eight or more children.
- For children between 21 and 36 months, the ratio should be 1:4 for a group of eight children, 1:5 for a group of 10, and 1:6 for a group of 12.
- For children 30 to 48 months, the ratio should be 1:6 for a group of 12 children, 1:7 for a group of 14, 1:8 for a group of 16, and 1:9 for a group of 18.
- For 4- and 5-year-olds, the ratio should be 1:8 for a group of 16 children, 1:9 for a group of 18 children, and 1:10 for a group of 20 children.
If the facility seems well-balanced, then it’s likely that your children will receive plenty of attention and care.
It’s also important to consider the reputation of a daycare facility. Much like we turn to respected friends for advice for other areas in life, asking your group of friends about their experiences with a facility can help you make the right choice. Check out the ones they personally recommended or check if they’ve heard anything about the ones you’re considering. Chances are they’ll have something worth keeping in mind — good and bad. If a facility has a great reputation, it’s likely that they’ve earned it!
Another good sign is an interesting and varied schedule or curriculum, according to Babylist. They go onto to further explain, “Do you want them to have a loose, fluid schedule that is more child-led and changes often? Or would you prefer a more school-like educational environment with a rigid curriculum? Either way, an excellent daycare will meet your needs. And make sure television or videos play a minimal role (or none at all) unless they’re part of the curriculum and are age-appropriate.” A facility who is open with and stick to their curriculum tend to take their jobs seriously and are committed to the kids in their care. You can also feel better knowing your kids aren’t just sat in front of a TV or screen all day.
Don’t be afraid to ask those tough questions. A well-trained, safe, and all-around good facility won’t feel the need to hide anything from you or get frustrated with your questioning. Most facilities understand the emotional stress and worry parents go through when finding the right daycare for their kids. If you have any doubts, move on. While it might take some time and patience, it’ll be worth it to find a place you trust. Good luck!
What are your thoughts? Please share in the comments below. I really would love to know.
Until next time, shine amongst the stars!
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