Your child's care is a primary concern when relocating to a new region. If you require day care services for your son or daughter, you should begin looking for a facility in your new city as soon as possible. The following tips will help you conduct research, plan, and make an educated decision about the child care center that's best for your family.
What are you looking for?
Before you begin searching for a day care in your new neighborhood, identify your priorities in a potential facility. Since you should start your hunt at least three to six months in advance, you will need to begin preparations well before your move.
Some things to consider include:
- Location. Would you prefer the day care center closer to your home or workplace?
- Cost. What is your budget?
- Size. Would you prefer a large day care center where your child can socialize with more of his or her peers, or a home day care with just several other children?
Do your research
Once you have outlined your expectations for a day care, it's time to start seeking services that meet your needs. There are many resources available to find reputable day care providers, including:
Once you construct a list of potential day care services that interest you, it's time to visit the facilities. If you are moving long distance this can be difficult to plan in advance--many day care centers have waiting lists up to six months. Set up appointments for the earliest dates possible after you move in, and make temporary plans for child care in the mean time.
Call as many places as possible to arrange appointments for your visit. Things to observe during your visit include:
- The space. Is it clean? Is there ample room to play and interact? Is there an outdoor area for recreation? Is it secure? Are there appropriate and safe toys available?
- The children. Do they appear happy? How do they interact with one another? With the staff?
- The staff. How do they treat the children? Are they warm and welcoming? Do they seem to enjoy their jobs? Are they professional? Are they adequately-monitoring the children?
Before attending your appointment, jot down some important questions to ask the staff during your tour of the facility. You want to acquire as much information about the day care as possible, so be detailed and thorough in your inquiries.
Some questions to ask include:
- What are the hours?
- How much does it cost? What are the extra fees?
- What is the daily schedule like?
- When are feeding and nap times?
- Where do the children eat and sleep?
- What types of snacks are provided?
- What is the philosophy of care (discipline, quiet time, hands-on activities)
- How are problems with the children addressed?
- What is the caregiver-to-child ratio?
- Can the program accommodate special needs children?
- What safety precautions are taken? (Location of smoke alarms/fire extinguishers, frequency of fire drills, escape routes, location and security of hazardous items/poisonous substances, First Aid and CPR training)
- What are the staff's credentials? (certifications, education, training, experience)
Ask any day care you are considering for a list of references to contact. Call them, and ask specific questions about the facility rather than simply "Do you like the center?" Ask them what they liked most about the day care as well as what they did not like. If their children are no longer at the center, ask why.
You can also chat with other parents present to get opinions when you visit the center.
Get on a waiting list
Day care centers often have lengthy waiting lists--sometimes up to six months. However, don't get discouraged--these wait times are often inflated since care-seeking parents put their names down with multiple centers before making their decision. Similarly, add yourself to as many waiting lists as possible until you choose the center that is best for you. This will help you secure a spot in a desired facility quickly and easily.Photo by: Ambro (Freedigitalphotos.net)