K-12 and Childcare
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Top Ten Tips for Parents Evaluating Childcare Facilities

1. Get Setup

Choose three childcare facilities for evaluation that are preferably between your work and home. Ideally choose one that is closer to work because if you get caught in traffic on the way to pick up your kids you could end up being very late. Many childcare facilities charge a per-minute fee for late pickups and if they’re close to work you’ll always be near if they get sick or need to go home early.

2. Evaluate the Facility

Depending on the age range, evaluate how the staff is interacting with the other children. Do they hold the small children on their laps? Do they play with the children and do projects with them? Do you sense that they like the children and relate to them?

3. Evaluate the Staff

Evaluate the staff. How long have they worked there? Are they there for the children? Evaluate the staff turnover rate. Turnover can confuse and disappoint children. How many children are there per staff member? U.S. States mandate a strict minimum ratio and some might surpass the minimum, but being in compliance doesn’t necessarily mean that a higher quantity is better.
  1. Infants: Optimally there will be between three and four infants per staff member.
  2. 1 to 2 year olds: Optimally there will be between two and four 1 to 2 year olds per staff member.
  3. Preschoolers: Optimally there will be between seven and ten preschoolers per staff member.

4. Philosophy

Do you agree with their policies? What are their policies on discipline? Are their beliefs in line with your own on subjects like religion? What is their policy on sick children?

5. Ask Questions

How long have they been in business? How is food distributed? Have they been trained in CPR?

6. Take the Tour

Do an examination of all the areas your child will use. Most childcare facilities will offer a tour. Take the tour and take notes. Keep score and then compare scores with other childcare facilities. Is it a happy place? Is the atmosphere pleasant and bright? Are there enough toys for the kids?

7. Software

Do they have an online school payment software system such as EduTuit that you can use to make payments? Do they accept credit cards or ACH debit? Can you manage your own account online?

8. Regulation

Are they licensed? Although guidelines vary from state to state, there are basic guidelines that all childcares must follow. You'll be hard-pressed to find one that isn't licensed and still operating but it's worth mentioning that there are laws and regulations that you may want to review particular to your state.

9. Outdoors

Is there a fenced-in outside area for kids to play? Schools are more likely to spend more time planning the inside than the outside, and kids will wear out clothes faster outside if it’s all concrete (along with knees and elbows), so look for lots of grass. Make sure you walk out there and see for yourself. Are there outdoor toys and different areas for your kids to play?

10. Go With Your Gut Feeling

Would your children want to stay there all day? Is this an environment your children will feel comfortable? You know your children better than anybody, and you know the home in which they live. Is this place a fun and inviting atmosphere for them?

Be sure to read all of their policies. Does their payment schedule conform to yours? Find out about additional costs. Look at their holiday schedule and prices, and get a copy of their full schedule. Do you have any special needs? Are you separated or divorced, let them know and ask them how they handle dual-custody. Compare all of this data from all three childcare facilities and it’ll help you to make the best choice for where your kids will spend a great deal of their time.

Print | posted on Monday, December 08, 2014 7:01 AM |


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