Your child’s foray into daycare can be a critical step in their development, so selecting the right program is vital.
Are you looking for group daycare or in-home daycare? Is the program licensed or accredited Do you need part time or full time daycare? (Note that daycare is different from preschool, which can begin as early as age 2.) Group daycare is at a state-licensed facility, similar to a school, with kids of varying ages. Home daycare is run out of the caregiver’s own home and the providers are not necessarily licensed or trained. After you’ve decided which way to go, quality, cost, and -- depending on the family, religious affiliations -- are important considerations. Staff-to-child ratio is also important, especially for very young children. Do your research on the history of the daycare (longevity and low staff turnover are good signs). Start with location, cost, and program availability, and then dive into the quality of the daycare program, the qualifications of the staff, program philosophies (discipline, dealing with illnesses, etc.), personnel-to-child ratio, the facility and surrounding environment (including indoor and outdoor play areas), and security. Another area to consider is how your child will be getting to and from the facility. Commute can be a factor, especially if both parents work. If you think this is a lot to tackle, just remember: You still have the teen years to look forward to.