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What do you look for in your child care program? Do you look for educational components? Low staff turnover? A smaller, more home-like environment? What are the essential qualities of a good program?”

4 replies so far...

  • Thank you all for your answers! It's interesting to see how the different personalities of your kids influenced your decisions. I think we often think about the logistics of things like proximity to home and work, fees, etc., and while those are certainly important, there are other factors to consider. I appreciate all of your information!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by KAtwinmom on 27th September 2010

  • I looked for different things at different ages. When she was small I chose a small home daycare setting. It was approved by the state which meant it had some outside time (in good weather), crafts, educaitonal basics and decent meals (after age 1). The home setting meant a smaller group of children, and it turned out to be a loving/nurturing environment. They were also more flexible with work schedule vagaries than centers were. She was also able to help me judge the speech/development issues I was seeing and confirm them so I had more ammo for the doctors.
    We left that when she was 4 to get her going in a school environment including starting the individual education plan. It was good for her also to get used to so many children. While we were sad to leave, as she grew she needed something different. And that's something to remember too - the program you choose today may not be the one you choose tomorrow.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Mich on 27th September 2010

  • With the birth of my second child, I had to re-evaluate childcare options. My biggest concern was-- Are they willing to store pumped breastmilk to be fed to my baby? After that, I asked about naptime (definitely don't want my kids coming home without a nap! yikes!) and how much time the kids get to spend outside (my older child LOVES to be outside, in fact, "outside" was one of her first words). If it is a larger facility, I'm sure I'd want it to be licensed by the state. We are planning to keep them at the same facility where my first child has been, but I did tour another place and I'm glad I looked around. It made me feel good about my choice.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Allison on 25th September 2010

  • I think it largely depends on your child's personality (or if you have multiple kids, the personality of the child most likely to suffer from an unfortunate choice).

    My eldest daughter has sensory issues, visual learning issues, and difficulties with transitions. My other daughter is more typical in terms of personality. When my kids were around a year old and I first sought child care help, I felt my eldest would do best with in-home care, as she was extremely shy and uncomfortable with new people. So I hired a nanny until the kids were about 2.5. Then I visited a couple of centers that met the basic requirements of cleanliness, safety, stimulation, affordability, proximity, and sufficient hours for professional flexibility. One center was a "montessori" where dozens of kids age 3-5 were all doing their own thing (not quietly) in one big room. In that environment, my eldest would have crawled into a corner and stayed there for months. The other center had small rooms, and my kids' age group had a maximum 8 kids in a room with 1 teacher. This was a lot more appropriate for my kid. My other daughter would probably have been "OK" in either environment. A couple other things that bugged me about the center I didn't choose were: healthy menus were not a priority for them, and they had no convenient arrangements for kids under 3 to use the potty. (I note that the tuition fees of the two centers I visited were almost identical.)

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by SKL on 25th September 2010