How to Decide on a Daycare Center

daycare_crayonsWhen it comes to picking the right daycare center, it’s important to keep all your top priorities in mind.  Most of the daycare centers in your area are going to be regulated by state laws and inspected by the same inspectors, so the basics of how they operate will be the same.  However, each individual daycare center can still vary widely depending on what they offer.  So make sure to look into all of the various programs and activities your child will be involved in.

Here are few of the programs and activities that you may want to ask about.  These daycare centers should go into as much detail as you request with any of the programs they offer.  Sometimes for extra fees you can even enroll your child in extra programs such as swimming lessons, gymnastics, art classes, and sports activities.

Daycare Programs That May be Available:

  • Art classes
  • Preschool education
  • Music classes
  • Sports classes
  • Physical education
  • Sciences education
  • Religious studies
  • Swimming lessons

Daycare centers are often more expensive than in-home daycare providers.  They also tend to have more hidden fees that might take you by surprise if you do not ask about them.  Make sure to ask about late pickup fees.  Many daycare centers charge a fee should they need to stay past their closing time waiting for you to pick up your child.  These can range widely and can be charged per minute, in 15 minute blocks or even a percentage of your weekly fee.  Make sure to also inquire if there are any extra crafting fees, field trip fees or anything else is not disclosed up front.  They are required to make you aware of these fees should you ask but sometimes they’re hidden or buried within the mountain of paperwork.

It’s also a good idea to ask the daycare center how they inform the parents of the children’s activities.  They may have information walls, send out a weekly newsletter, or have talks with the parents.  However the particular daycare center prefers to keep parents up to speed is fine, just so you know what to look for.

Having your child in a daycare center can be very convenient.  With their long hours, different features and ability to accommodate many different needs and children, they can be the ideal care provider for child.  Ask other parents which centers their kids attend.  If you know parents of the kids in your daycare, you can remind each other of upcoming events, keep an eye on each others’ kids, and share any concerns you may have. You might even be able to work out arrangements and take turns picking up both children.  Since the classes are larger, it’s easier to connect with a friend of yours whose child attends the same daycare center.

Be sure the daycare center goes over the security measures and procedures of the facility.   Daycare centers are full of many different children every day.  This can make it difficult to keep an eye on every child all the time.  So make sure you check for open doors and an open playground.  Make sure to ask about their sign in and sign out policy.  Ask them how you authorize others than yourself to pick up your child.  And in this day of high technology ask them about video cameras or any other security measures they use to make sure children are safe.

Daycare centers can offer a wide variety of services and experiences for your child.  Their convenience and long hours, availability, wide range of services including preschool, and ease of enrollment make them a popular choice for many people.  They are more expensive than in-home daycares but not as expensive as in-home nannies.  Budget, convenience, and preschool activities are usually the reasons people end up deciding on daycare centers, but you need to make sure this option works best for your child and your family.

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