The demand for daycare is both widespread and problematic. According to the New York Times, approximately 12 million American children age four and under are cared for on a daily basis by someone other than a parent, not counting the millions of school age children who require care when school is not in session.
If you are considering changing daycares, or sending your children to daycare for the first time, here are some legal tips you should consider when choosing a childcare facility:
Many states have free resources available to help parents locate childcare, and more than half of the states post monitoring and inspection reports online. The Child Care Aware of North Dakota website offers a variety of resources to parents, including how to locate suitable daycare facilities, how to search for openings, tips for choosing care, information on financial assistance, and creating a childcare backup plan.
Even if your state provides daycare inspection results online, it is still a good idea to tour a facility in person before making a decision. Pay close attention to how the staff interacts with children, as well as their policies on discipline and other important day to day activities.
Licensing, Accreditation, and Training
Be sure to check whether the facility is properly licensed and accredited by local and state authorities. Also inquire about the qualifications and training required of the staff, and general philosophies regarding the care provided.
Trust Your Instincts
Entrusting your child to a poorly trained or careless provider can have dire consequences, so don’t be afraid to change your mind regarding childcare if it just doesn’t feel right. Trust your instincts, and don’t be afraid to drop in unannounced just to see how things are going. Surprise visits from daycare inspectors turn up problems and unsafe conditions at daycares across the nation every day.
Choosing daycare is not necessarily easy, but the knowledge that your child is being cared for in a safe and stimulating environment is certainly worth the effort.
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