Evaluating A Daycare
1. How does your child-care provider greet your child
in the morning? Does she seem genuinely happy to see him? Or does she give a curt Hello while she busies herself with other things? Studies show that the
warmth of the relationship between children and their providers is key to quality care. If children don't feel
safe and cared about, they will have difficulties learning and growing.
2. Is your caregiver tuned in to your child? Pay close attention to how
she relates to your little one. Does she squat down and talk to your child eye to eye? The provider who is
responsive repeats the sounds your baby makes, or when your three-year-old gets excited about something, the
provider asks questions, listens, brings a storybook on the subject, and encourages your child to know that he
can learn and enjoy learning. Quality caregivers are responsive and able to read a child's cues these
characteristics are essential for promoting emotional and intellectual development.
3. What do you see at the end of the day? Is your child busy at play,
engaged in art projects, reading books and interacting with other children? Or does she rush up and cling to
you when you arrive? If it's the latter, she may be bored and starved for attention and in need of a new
4. What is the adult-to-child ratio? Each state has different
regulations for how many children a teacher can care for at once. Still, being in compliance with such laws
doesn't necessarily mean that a center is a quality operation. Often, official standards are lower than what
child-care experts recommend. In my experience, a group size of six to eight infants for every two adults, and
six to 12 one- and two-year-olds per three adults, is ideal. For preschoolers, look for 14 to 20 children for
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5. What is the teacher turnover? Constant turnover can be disruptive and
potentially disturbing for children. If you�re hiring a nanny, look for one who doesn't have a history of
job-hopping � one who can commit to at least a year or more. If you're investigating a child-care center, find
out how well it retains workers. Good centers, which pay their workers reasonably well and treat them with
respect, should have a turnover rate of less than 25 percent.
6. Do the teachers have advanced training? Don't dismiss the value of
well-trained providers they understand how children develop and are better able to meet their needs. They also
tend to be more intentional those who bother to learn how kids grow are more likely to put some thought into
furthering your child's development.
7. Is the environment safe, clean and inviting? At a minimum, providers
should follow basic health and safety measures, such as washing hands after changing diapers and keeping a
list of emergency numbers so you or a doctor can be quickly contacted if necessary. Check to see that a
variety of interesting and age-appropriate activities and toys are within easy reach. Finally, look for more
subtle signs that all is well, like displays of children's work on the walls. This simple action shows that
the kids efforts and creations are praised and appreciated, just as they would be in your home.
8. Do you feel supported as a working parent? The best teachers should
seem like part of your extended family. Does she help you to be a better parent? Or do her comments and
actions make you worry and feel guilty about leaving your child all day? If she's doing her job well, a
provider should help you feel confident in your decision to work or have time alone while your child stays
9. Would you want to stay there all day? If the answer is no, then look
for another arrangement. Your child shouldn't have to tolerate a situation that you would find unpleasant.
After all, with the right provider, your child will thrive and, in turn, so will you.
Evaluating A Daycare
DCDays.com would like to give a special thanks to The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry for
this informational article. You can contact them at: 3615 Wisconsin Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20016-3007 voice:
202-966-7300 fax: 202-966-2891.