What to Look For in a Childcare Center
NOTE: This looks great. Just replace the “daycare center” with “childcare or childcare facility.” Daycare is an outdated term no longer used in the early care and education world.
If you are a business owner, there is a strong likelihood that 15-20% of the people in your company have concerns over eldercare and/or childcare. In North Carolina, child care is one of the state’s main priorities due to having one of the highest levels of working mothers of young children in the country. In this state alone, there are 252,442 children enrolled in a childcare center.
If you are thinking “I need to find a childcare network near me,” you may be wondering how to find a facility that is qualified. You may also need to know what things to look for when selecting childcare for your child.
Types of Childcare Facilities
When you are looking for child care, the first decision is whether you want your child to receive care in a group daycare or through in-home daycare. This determination is based on your own personal preferences and the type of setting you believe is most beneficial to your child.
Group daycare is licensed by the state and usually is run similar to a school. Children of various age groups receive care in separate rooms or areas of the center.
In-home daycare is run in the provider’s home. Usually, the caregiver has their own personal children that they are caring for as well.
North Carolina Daycare License Requirements
All workers in childcare must be at least 18 years of age. The number of staff the facility must have varies depending on the age of the child and the type of daycare. In a Daycare Center, the ratio of workers to children begins at 1:5 for children under 18 months of age. The ratio lessens as the child ages, with 10 years and older having a 1:25 ratio.
The ratios for small family child care homes are different than centers. The maximum number of children to one provider is 8, with no more than 5 who are preschool age or younger. The provider’s children must be included in this count if they are preschool or younger.
How Your Child Benefits From Daycare
When you locate a good daycare program, it offers significant benefits to your child. Your child will receive continuous care from early infancy through early school years.
A facility that offers a preschool center or early learning center will provide a well-organized program to build on your child’s growth and development. By attending daycare your child will develop social skills and become more outwardly friendly toward strangers.
You can depend on staff in a daycare center being trained and licensed. Because it is a business with a full staff, if a caregiver is sick or takes a vacation, there is someone there to take their place.
If you use an in-home daycare there are a lower number of children than group daycare centers. This means your child is more likely to receive more personal attention and less exposure to illness.
Considerations When Choosing a Childcare Center
When you plan to send your child to daycare, you need to begin your search a minimum of two months before you need the facility. If you live in a larger city, you may need to allow several months to secure a spot.
Ask co-workers, friends, and parents from church or other organizations for recommendations. You can also search online for childcare referral services.
Make initial contact with each center that appeals to you by phone. Once you narrow your list down to 2-3 selections, visit each center in person.
Ask for and check references. Ask people what they like or don’t like about the center. Make the same inquiry about their children.
Inquire about the center’s accreditation. Group daycare centers may receive accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). To qualify the center must exhibit higher standards, including a good adult/child ratio, low staff turnover, and must promote the safety, development, and health of the children in their care.
If you are seeking an in-home daycare facility, those that are accredited receive their credentials from the National Association for Family Child Care. Any in-home family daycare with accreditation has achieved competency in five core areas, which are 1) relationships, 2) the environment, 3) learning activities, 4) safety and health, and 5) professional and business practices.
Things To Look For During Visit
When you go to meet with the daycare facility in person, look to see if the children and staff appear happy. The environment should be stimulating, with lots of age-appropriate toys and cheerful decor. Make sure entrances and exits are monitored so children do not escape and strangers do not enter.
Is the setting clean and healthy? Watch to see if caregivers wash their hands after diaper changes. Look to see if staff makes sure things such as teething rings and pacifiers are not shared between children.
Look for choking and safety hazards such as stairways accessible to children. Are the floors are clean? There should be no toxic chemicals or cleaning supplies where children can reach. Make sure there are smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.
Questions To Ask the Child Care Center
When interviewing a daycare facility these questions will clarify if that center is the right place for you and your child.
- What do you charge for tuition and what is the payment schedule?
- Does your facility have a state license and are you accredited?
- What is your staff-to-child ratio?
- What are your policies on discipline, comforting, feeding, and education?
- What kind of training do you and your staff have?
- What are your policies regarding immunizations?
- What do the children eat and are meals and snacks provided?
The above general questions pertain to any type of childcare you are thinking of using for your child
When Interviewing a Group Daycare Ask:
- How long have your teachers been on staff?
- What type of screening do you perform on staff?—complete health and criminal background checks should be performed on every worker
These two items are good indications of whether this facility does its due diligence when hiring workers.
Additional Questions for an in-Home Daycare
- What other adults and teens will be in your home when my child is here and will they interact with the children?
- Do you have pets?
- How do you handle caregiver personal emergencies, sickness, or vacation days?
- How much advance notice do you give before planned days off?
- Do you have a backup care option?
- Does your insurance cover my child if injured?
In-home facilities need a close review. They do not necessarily comply with all the regulations that a licensed facility does.
How To Locate a Childcare Center Near Me
You now know what to look for, what questions to ask, and the basics of childcare center types. The next step is to locate some centers to interview. That is where Carefinderz can help.
We offer enhanced childcare referral services in New Hanover, Pender, and Brunswick counties. Our team has more than 80 years of combined experience in childcare. Contact us now at (910) 297-9743 to schedule an individualized consultation.
We only list services that are legitimate businesses. We provide the information that allows you to make a decision that is best for your family. To find a daycare center near you click here.