Selecting Child Care for Your Little One
Lynn and I know it is more challenging than ever to find quality childcare. That’s why we wanted to offer a helping hand by creating a check list to help you identify the best program for your child and family. Once you have identified your options plan to visit - twice. Yes, twice and if possible, with another adult so you can discuss the options. When you visit, Lynn and I encourage you to ask these questions:
- How do YOU feel when you walk in the door? Not what do you see or hear, but what do you FEEL. Two thirds of our receptors for the fight/flight response are in our gut. Pause to note what your “gut” is telling you? Do you feel welcome? Is this a place you would like to return day after day? Covid restrictions may initially trigger a negative response, so breathe deeply, re-center and then refocus to shift your attention past the restrictions to what’s occurring in the program.
- How long have staff been employed at this program? Continuity in staffing is essential for your child to form strong relationships. If the group has had three new teachers in the past year, this is a red flag.
- What do you like about working here? Talk with staff and ask them this question. Listen thoughtfully to the response. You want to know staff are happy working here and feel valued. Children synchronize to the stress level of their caregivers. You want positive, relaxed staff.
- What spoils an infant? This is an important question to ask staff in an infant program. You want the answer to be, “It’s not possible to spoil a baby. Babies need to know we will respond to their needs. That’s how they build a sense of trust.” You do NOT want, “Picking them up all the time.”
- What are your feelings about touching young children? There are concerns about abuse for young children, but you want the staff to reply, “There’s a difference between appropriate and inappropriate touch. We know that children need appropriate, nurturing touch.”
- When a child cries, do staff respond quickly and soothingly? Children do cry in the best of childcare programs; the key however is that their cries are noticed and sensitively responded to quickly.
- How are new children transitioned into the program? If it’s a cold turkey process, drop them off and leave – this is not your program. Children need to be allowed to explore and meet their new caregivers with the support of a trusted loved one present.
- What foods are served? If your little one is eating solids, ask to see the snack and meal menu. You want to know that the children are receiving breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, and mid-afternoon snack. Each mini meals should include a little protein, carbohydrate, fruit/vegetables and fat. If you are breastfeeding, how is breastfeeding supported?
- Do children nap? The ability to nap at childcare is a quality indicator. Young children must feel emotionally and physically safe to sleep. It is also critical that naps are viewed as essential and thus protected. A separate sleeping area for young infants is a bonus.
- Are children engaged? If children are mobile, are they busy exploring a wide variety of materials and surfaces? Or is the space so “neat” or toys and equipment stored out of children’s reach limiting play.
- How does this program communicate with parents? You want open lines of communication. If electronic communication is used, ask if staff are given time to enter information rather than expected to do so while caring for the children?
- Do I believe that my child will be emotionally and physically safe in this environment? Your child will spend hours in this setting and with these caregivers. You want it to be a place where your child will be treasured. If you “feel peaceful and respected” this is your place. If you do not, keep looking. It’s worth the effort.
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