Do your due diligence when choosing a daycare

September 27, 2018 | by Uzma Muneer, D.O.
Categories: Healthy Driven Moms

Choosing a daycare provider for your baby or child is no easy task. With all the news stories you’ve probably heard about negligence and other health and safety issues, how do you make the best choice?

Here are some tips to help you choose a child care arrangement that’s right for your family:

  1. Ask around. It always helps to have a referral from someone you know. Ask people for recommendations, including your primary care doctor or pediatrician, mom friends, neighbors, coworkers, people at church, etc.

  2. Do your homework. Search online for daycares near you. Will your daycare provider will be at a child care center, school, church, in a home, or elsewhere? Read the reviews. This will help you narrow down a few options. Child Care Aware® can help you locate child care resources in your community. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services also provides a licensed provider lookup.

  3. Stop by unannounced. Rather than call to schedule an appointment, an unannounced visit will give you an idea about how the daycare operates day-to-day. Ask to see all the areas that your child would use. You may need to schedule a follow up visit later.

Once you’ve narrowed down a few options, you’ll want to do some more digging. Schedule a follow up visit and have a list of questions ready before you go. In addition to cost, what are the hours? What happens if you’re late picking up your child? Is there a daily schedule? How will you receive feedback about your child? Child Care Aware offers a helpful checklist of questions.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers advice for other things to consider when choosing a daycare:

  • Policies. The center should have a written policy for each of the following areas: health standards, illness, medication, nutrition, discipline, transportation, media, and outdoor play.
  • Licensing/accreditation/inspections. Is the center licensed or registered with the appropriate local government agencies? Are there any outstanding violations? Is the program currently accredited? Ask for a copy of the program’s license and inspection history.
  • References. Does the caregiver have current references from parents you can contact?
  • Background checks. Especially for an at-home daycare, confirm that every adult living, working, or volunteering in the child care home has had a comprehensive background check.
  • Qualifications and training. What education, training, and experience does the child care provider have? Is she/he certified in first aid/CPR? Are they trained in child development, early-childhood education, or a related field?
  • Staffing. Do the child-staff ratios and the size of groups of children fall within nationally recognized standards? For example, child-to-staff ratio of 3:1 in a center caring for infants, 4:1 for 2-year-olds, 7:1 for 3-year-olds, and 8:1 for 5-year-olds.
  • Health professional. Is there a qualified health professional, such as a doctor or nurse, for the program?
  • Supervision. Are children supervised at all times, even when they are sleeping? If you are looking for infant care, ask about the provider’s Safe Sleep policies.
  • Safety. Does the provider have an emergency plan? Smoke alarms in place? Are the toys child-safe and the rooms child-proof? Are cleaning supplies in a locked cabinet? Are all outside play areas enclosed? Are visitors screened so that only approved adults can pick up children?
  • Transportation. Do children ever leave the premises and for what reasons? Are the proper car seats, booster seats, and seat belts used?

Choosing a daycare for your baby or child can be nerve-wracking. But, if you do your due diligence, you’ll find a child care arrangement that you’re comfortable with and that works for your family.

Learn more about children’s services at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

Need a primary care doctor for your child? Edward-Elmhurst Health has hundreds of board-certified physicians to choose from. You can book online today to set up your first appointment.

Related blogs:

How to prepare your sitter for an emergency

Safe sleep for babies and other ways to reduce SIDS risk

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