Choosing day care for your child

Let’s acknowledge that the days of the “bread winner father and stay at home mother” are mostly gone.   Whether the reason is professional fulfillment or economic necessity, it is far less common for young children to stay at home all day in today’s world compared to even when I was a young parent.  So choosing proper day care is a very common need, and certainly important and confusing for families today.  What issues should be considered?

1) Note the types of facilities–

  • family home day care–are there enough adult care givers?  Is there proper supervisioin for different ages of children in one area?  Are the premises child proofed for toddlers?
  • Day care centers–Is it licensed?  Is it part of a for profit entity or a religious institution (and if so, what type of religious liturgy might be followed and is that appropriate for your child?)
  • In home day care–hiring a nanny–most expensive
  • Some facilities are available for children with special needs

What are some other considerations?

  • Are caregivers experienced?  Of course check references
  • What does the facility look like–go check it out! Is it clean, is it secure?  Do the children in attendance seem to be enjoying themselves? How are they interacting with the staff?
  • Is the facility licensed?  There are major accrediting agencies for these facilities like the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the National Association for Family Child Care.
  • Is there proper supervision?  Pay close attentionto the caregiver/child ratio–0-12 mo:1/3; 13-30 mo:1/4; 31-35 mo:1/5; 3yrs 1/7; 4-5 yrs 1/8; 6-8 yrs:1/10; 9-12 yrs 1/12(according to Nelson’s Instructions for Pediatric Patients).

Pay attention to your child’s demeanor at pickup time and certainly take note of behavioral changes  that might occur in association with your child’s attendance at a day care facility (remember: things you may note are not by definition caused by being in day care in general or at that facility specifically).  And a bit of special advise: if your child’s reaction upon being dropped off seems particularly negative, that is by no means cause for undue concern.  Parents are frequently shocked that their apparently severely overwrought child becomes happy and composed within moments of parent’s departure; most children who do initially manifest strongly negative rections to being left at day care will become acclimated and happy after just a few visits with firm, loving, supportive interactions from both parents and day care attendants.  So don’t let that heart rendering tantrum become too discouraging!!

Another good resource for further information is the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education. 

As always, call me with questions and concerns.  I invite questions or comments, and thanks for reading.


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