If you’re searching for a daycare centre you may be surprised by the number of choices open to you.
In one sense, that’s a good thing but some caution may be required. Simply searching for “child care near me” may yield some results that might not be a good fit for your child and/or situation.
Different types of daycare centres
While thinking that your main selection criteria is ‘child care near me’, in reality, it might be necessary to think a little more broadly. That’s because whilst many institutions might describe themselves as a daycare centre, the services they offer may differ significantly one from another.
To know which one is likely to be the best fit, you’ll need to think clearly about your evaluation criteria in advance.
If you’re working full-time during standard office hours, then your centre will need to offer full standard daycare. That may be less important if you’re at home, working from home or only working mornings etc.
Some centres might only offer short-day services.
Whatever terminology a potential centre uses to describe itself, in reality, you may see that their proposition of service broadly speaking comes under one of two headings:
- early learning and child development;
- childcare / child minding / play centre etc.
Daycare centres offering the first types of services will also, by default, offer the second category. By contrast, a centre orienting its services to provide only the second category types will not necessarily also offer early learning structures.
It isn’t easy to generalise tips relating to differentiating between the two forms of daycare centres. It will be necessary to research them in detail online and visit them to discuss what if any specialist early learning programmes and structures they adopt.
Some parents may be fairly relaxed about toddler early learning structures while others may believe them to be essential or at least highly advantageous.
It is a sad fact of life that today keeping children safe in school or daycare centres is a real consideration. This involves thinking about internal centre issues, usually meaning the centre’s personnel and external threats.
Some providers may offer more reassurance here than others relating to background checks and external security systems.
Centres may offer in-house catering and if they do, it’s important to be clear that their standards and values are the same as yours.
If your child requires special provisions for things such as medication or mobility assistance, some centres may be better equipped than others to provide such services.
As a general rule, centres should have a good balance between more mature and highly experienced personnel and those who are younger and gaining experience in their chosen career or simply new entrants to the profession.
Do not hesitate to ask for specifics in this area and if a centre is reluctant to provide them, it may give grounds for being very cautious.
Check to make sure the centre is registered with and accredited by appropriate professional bodies. These may vary slightly depending on your state of residence.
Avoid confusing a company’s business registration with professional association membership/accreditation.
First aid training
Wherever a group of children are playing together and despite whatever excellent preventative and safety measures are in place, then sooner or later bumps, spills and other minor accidents are going to happen.
The vast majority of these will be trivial but some may require the provision of rapid first aid. It’s therefore important to understand before selection of a daycare centre, what types of qualified first aid facilities and personnel are available – just in case.
While geographic convenience will be very important, it’s most likely to be the only thing taken into account by a web search for “child care near me”.
The factors above though are critically important and might be well worth driving a little further to find.