Home and Family

What to Look for in Choosing Child Care

Finding good child care can be likened to finding a needle in a haystack. It is often a challenge to find the right situation to meet your family’s needs now, and a daycare in Houston that is flexible enough to adjust as your family changes and evolves. With so many options – a day care home, day care center, preschools, a nanny or in-home babysitter, and family care – it can be difficult to decide which is the best fit. Regardless of which type of child care you choose, here are some overall guidelines and things to look for in evaluating potential situations:

1. Safety 

safety is number one for a reason. Child care spaces should be child-proofed and clean. Look for exposed electric outlets, wires, dangling cords and other hazards. Sit down on the floor and look around to see if the place has been adequately baby-proofed. If it is a day care home, look to see that gates are where they should be, if there is a pool is should be fenced and locked, and check to see if doors and windows have proper latching.

2. Cleanliness 

it is perfectly reasonable to investigate how clean a center or home is. Ask how toys and counters are disinfected, and how often. Find out how often bedding and other items are washed and look over the area for overall cleanliness. Are the children encouraged to wash their hands?

3. Equipment and Toys 

Check to see that there are adequate, safe, age-appropriate toys and equipment. Are there enough for the amount of children attending the day care? Look for well-kept toys and equipment and adequate outdoor play space. Is there enough space for everyone and the center to operate comfortably?

4. Staff 

You will want to know the qualifications and experience of the staff, as well as what the ration between children and staff is. Watch the way the children in attendance and the staff interact to get a feel for the culture of the center or home.

5. Activities

Find out what sort of activities take place at the day care center to find out if it is compatible with your own philosophies. Some parents want academic activities for preschool-age children, while others prefer a more playful atmosphere. Find out if there are field trips and how they are managed. Is there enough for kids to do an enough variety for different interests and learning styles?

6. Location 

You’ll want to evaluate the neighborhood and how convenient it is to your own home. If there are outings in the neighborhood, is it safe and suitable? If transportation is a concern, check in to whether the center or home provides transportation or talk over how you will handle pick-up and drop-off to suit your family’s needs.

7. Food 

Have a conversation about how food is served at the center and look over the food preparation area. You will want a center or home where the food and snack philosophies match your own.

8. Bathroom, diaper changing, potty training

toileting issues can be major, so be sure to find out how diaper changing and toilet training are handled in the day care home or center. Will they support your efforts and philosophies? Or does the center expect children to be trained by certain ages? Look over the bathroom and make sure it is child-friendly and clean.

While you may not find the ideal day care situation that meets every one of your criteria, by having guidelines and issues that you are willing to be flexible on and knowing what your “deal breakers” are, you can make the most of your search. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and ask to visit the center for a day or two to see how things operate. It is perfectly fine to ask about licensing and referral information and most homes and centers will not be offended. Take your time, if possible, and keep your child’s needs as your primary concern. Chances are, you will find just the right child care situation for your family.