Daycare, whether center-based or home-based, come in all types and styles. Learn how to choose the right one for your family.
Daycare, whether center-based or home-based, come in all types and styles. Some parents find choosing the right child care daunting while others may fall in love with the very first care center that they visit. However you find care for your child, it can take some time, but the following steps may help.
Friends and family can be your best resource in identifying a good potential. Personal references can be useful but keep in mind that a center that fits one family might not fit another, so ask a variety of people. You can also consult one of the many online resources. ChildCareAware.org can provide you information about licensed programs in your area; this organization also has a hotline to call should you have any critical questions. For older toddlers who are ready for preschool, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has an online database of accredited preschool centers.
Don't be afraid to call, visit, ask questions and verify the information you get from each center. Before you begin your search, get some basic information about the types of care available in your area. For example, what are the licensing requirements in your state? How do you access information about violations and complaints made against a particular childcare program? Does your family qualify for any financial assistance?
When you have identified potential programs in your area, there are a number of school characteristics to keep in mind. You can gather some of this information online or by calling the center. Other times, it is advisable to schedule a visit to see for yourself.
Keep track of the following information on each of the centers you evaluate:
For more information, see the guidelines for choosing childcare at ChildCareAware.org.
As the children and media expert on the Learning Team, Clement primarily works on products related to social studies, creativity, life skills and early childhood development. Before joining LeapFrog, he was an early education consultant, a media literacy researcher at the MIT Comparative Media Studies department, a researcher at Children’s Hospital Boston, and a researcher and lecturer at the Tufts University Developmental Technologies Research Group. Clement earned his MA in Child Development at Tufts University and is currently completing his doctoral dissertation.
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