When it comes to choosing child care, there are many different options to pick from. From hiring a nanny or other in-home care, to selecting a child-care centre or family day-care facility, there are a variety of providers to consider when making the all-important decision about who will take care of your little ones when you’re at work, sick, or otherwise unavailable.
Recent research into early childhood development is proving something that parents have believed to be true for thousands of years — that is, that the first few years of a child’s life are crucial when it comes to brain development. Indeed, findings presented to UNICEF in 2014 demonstrated that neurons in a youngster’s brain form from 700 to 1000 new connections per second in the early years of life. These connections are actually what build the brain’s structure, and lay the foundation for a person’s learning ability, wellbeing and behaviour in the future.
As a result, it’s critical to select a child-care provider that provides a safe, positive, nurturing and stimulating environment and impacts your child in the best possible way. Here are some top tips to size up your child-care options.
Visit the Centre in Person
If you’re considering a child-care or family day-care centre, the best way to get a good feel for whether or not it will be right for your family is to visit it in person. This allows you to evaluate a number of different criteria. For starters, check to see if the cleanliness of the rooms is up to scratch, and if the facility seems safe. Take a look around to see if it looks like cleaning is completed on a regular basis, and if any outside grounds are also well maintained.
While you can put in a compensation claim with a company like Claims Direct if your child is injured or becomes ill due to negligence at a centre, you never want to put your kids at risk in the first place. When it comes to safety, you should therefore check if spilled liquids are cleaned up promptly so that children and parents won’t slip and fall. Consider, are potentially dangerous resources and equipment kept out of the reach of young children? Are all the food and drink supplies within use-by dates and hygienically stored?
While checking out a child-care provider’s facilities, take note as well of the behaviour of the staff, and how they interact with children in their care. Examine whether staff members seem patient and caring, as well as attentive to the different needs of each child. Consider the ratio of the number of workers per child, and also look to see if the centre has adequate resources to help your young ones learn and grow.
It pays to check the paperwork of any facility you’re considering. Ensure that the centre (or specific nanny) is properly licensed and accredited with all up-to-date forms in place. Has the venue/worker ever had any violations against industry laws or standards? What experience and education does each child-care provider have? Have workers trained in first aid and know how to perform CPR if required?
It’s also worth asking child-care providers if they have written policies in place for things such as discipline, hygiene, health and safety, outdoor play, medications, allergies, and more. Furthermore, ask to read current references, and to be provided with contact details for those families so that you can get in touch with them to hear their honest feedback.
Understand the Fine Print
There are other specific “fine print” details that you should look into for each provider you’re considering. For example, make sure you ask about opening and closing hours. If you get stuck at work, or are suddenly ill or injured, is emergency child care available? If you need to leave for work earlier than usual, are you able to drop your children to the facility at an earlier time?
Trust your Instincts
At the end of the day, after you’ve evaluated essential criteria and narrowed down a list of potential child-care providers, the best way to make your final decision is to trust your instincts. As a parent, you already have a sense when something doesn’t feel quite right when it comes to your child, so don’t dismiss your feelings.
If you find that you weren’t impressed by a facility that other parents had raved about, perhaps this was because you sub-consciously picked up on a safety issue that others haven’t, or perhaps you just didn’t feel that the workers would be a good fit for your child. No matter the reason, remember that it’s well within your rights to investigate multiple providers.