Choosing the right childcare provider is an important decision that working parents have to make. For many parents, unfamiliarity with childcare laws, policies, and how daycare centers work makes this task particularly difficult.

Here are some guidelines to help parents in the search for a quality child care provider:

  1. Childcare Laws:
    Research the childcare laws in your state. Familiarize yourself with adult/child ratios, sanitation and food policies, and the other rules. This will help you to ask the right questions as you work towards choosing a childcare center.
  2. Contact the Center:
    Contact the childcare centers you are interested in to find out if they have room for your child, and when your child will be able to start. Make an unannounced visit, or set up an appointment to meet with the center’s director to answer any questions you may have.
  3. Adult/Child Ratio:
    Check up on the ratio of adults to children. How does the center meet the requirements? Are there extra staff on hand for emergencies? How many children are in each room? Once your questions have been answered, decide if this is a scenario you can be comfortable with.
  4. Cleaning/Sanitizing:
    Find out how the center handles cleaning. How do they sanitize the changing tables? How do they prepare tables for eating? What are the policies for hand washing or hazardous waste? When you tour the center, check for cleanliness. Ask to see the bathrooms and kitchen. Does the center seem clean?
  5. Food:
    What is the food policy at your center? Do you have to provide formula or pre-made bottles? What about baby food? How do they prevent mix ups? Find out if the center provides breakfast or snacks. It is also important to find out what your center’s policy is for dangerous food allergies or other food ailments.
  6. Violations:
    Most states have websites where you can view the results of state inspections on the facility. You can check violations for health policies and childcare laws. Check to see what kind of violations are listed for the center you are looking at.
  7. Reviews:
    The best source of information on your center comes from other parents. Do you know other parents that have used the facility? Would they recommend it? You can also find ratings and reviews online. There are many sites that provide information and reviews for local childcare centers.

Make a list of what you feel are the most important standards for a childcare center, and review what you discovered during your research. Childcare is a need most parents have, however, good, quality childcare is a necessity for every child.