Start looking as far in advance as you can. No matter what type of care you are considering—a child care center or care in someone else’s home—finding the right child care option can take some time. In fact for Infant and toddlers care it can take one to two year waiting list in a high quality program.
Where to look and whom to ask:
• Friends and co-workers • Community Organizations
• Physicians • Childcare Resources
• Local Bulletin Boards • Churches & Synagogues
• Schools and Universities • Yellow Pages
• Internet • Newspaper
Make a call to a local Child Care Resource & Referral
Begin your search by calling your local experts, a child care resource and referral (CCR&R) center. CCR&R’s can give you the facts about child care, and a list of child care options in your area that may meet your needs.
Questions to ask your CCR&R:
• What are the licensing requirements in my area?
• How can I get information about complaints and licensing violations?
• Are there any child care financial assistance programs that my family qualifies for?
Call the facilities you’re considering and ask questions such as:
• Do you have an opening?
• Do you have a waiting list? (if there are no openings)
• What are you days and hours of operations?
• What ages of children are accepted?
• What is your teacher-children’s ratios? What is the group’s size?
• Do you have an open door policy?
• What is your tuition fee?
• Do you have a yearly registration fee and what is the cost?
• What is included in the tuition fee? For example: meals, diapers, field trips, infant formula, curricula, etc.
• How are fees charged? Hourly? Weekly? Bi-weekly? Monthly?
• Do I pay when my child does not attend to school?
• What days does your center close?
• Can I get childcare on holidays and vacation days?
• Is there any financial assistance available?
• Is the program licensed?
• What is your policy for dealing with sick children?
• What is your policy for dealing with biting children?
• Are lunches and snacks provided?
• Can parents get involve with the program?
• Are there regular parent conferences/meetings?
Visit and Ask Questions
Choose at least three places that seem to fit your need as well as your child’s needs. Arrange an appointment to visit each one with your child, if possible. Make sure you visit the child care with a quality comparison checklist.
Consider using the parent check list when comparing Shining Stars Academy to other childcare providers. Print the handy checklist to take with you when taking tours of centers in your area. We’ve gone the extra mile to develop a comprehensive child care and child development program that also offers maximum flexibility and value. Give us a closer look and you’ll see why enrolling your child at Shining Stars Academy is one decision you can definitely feel good about. In addition find out about these important indicators of quality:
- Adult to Child Ratio: Ask how many children there are for each adult. The fewer the children for each adult, the better for your child. Babies need an adult to child ratio of no more than 1:4 (one adult for four infants), while four-year-olds can do well with a ratio of 1:10 (one adult for ten children).
- Group Size: Find out how many children are in the group. The smaller the group, the better.
- Caregiver Qualifications: Ask about the caregivers’ training and education. Caregivers with degrees and/or special training in working with children will be better able to help your child learn. Are the caregivers involved in activities to improve their skills? Do they attend classes and workshops?
- Accreditation: Find out if the child care provider has been accredited by a national organization. Providers that are accredited have met voluntary standards for child care that are higher than most state licensing requirements. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and The National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) are the two largest organizations that accredit child care programs.
Make a Choice
Think about what you saw at each visit, and make the best choice for your child and family. Check references and speak with parents of other children in the program. Trust your instinct and feelings. And lastly make sure that you have read the parents handbooks and the agreement policies and procedures of the program.
The work isn’t over when you find good care for your child. You and your child’s caregiver are partners now. Here are some ways to be involved:
- Have parent-caregiver meetings regularly, and ask questions.
- Offer to volunteer your time when needed, like participating in clean up days or fixing broken toys.
- Be there for your child’s birthday party.
- Visit your child at child care and read a book aloud.
- Join in special events, like field trips, Career Day, or other holidays.
Even if you can’t get time off from work during the day, you can still check in at drop-off and pick-up times. Ask the caregiver how things are going, and how your child is doing. Visiting and participating in events at your child’s provider sends a strong message. It tells your child and your child’s caregiver that you think what your child is doing and learning is important.