How to Choose the Right Child Care Center

 As summer winds down families start preparing for the busy back to school schedule.  For many families, choosing a good child care center is a key part of these preparations.

Although many younger children, some degree of separation anxiety is a natural during the first few days or weeks they’re enrolled in an out of home child care program. But most quickly adapt and even flourish as they make new friends and learn fun, new skills.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you begin your search for the best child care center for your child.

History of the Child Care Center

The best out of the home child care centers are those with an established history. Choose one that has been around for years rather than one that was started just recently. This is not to say that all new child care facility are bad. But to see a center going strong for many years, typically means it iswell run and trusted by parents.

Philosophy of the Administrators and Staff

It also helps to choose a child care center that has a philosophy that matches your goals for your child’s development. Ask yourself the following questions.  What types of activities do the children focus on?  Some centers provide little more than supervised playtime, while others focus on age-appropriate educational activities.

Well Trained Child Care CenterStaff

It goes without saying that a great child care programs have professional, experienced, certified staff that really care about children. Check to ensure that the owners background-check all applicants before hiring them. Additionally, you should ensure that the staff-to-student ratio is high enough. A low student-to-staff ratio (about 10:1 for kids aged 8-14) is recommended.

Structured vs. Unstructured Child Care Centers

Structured child care programs have everything planned out. There are set schedules for every activity, and everyone knows what will happen next, which can be a great thing. However, for older kids, unstructured programscansometimes be more fun since they have spontaneous surprises waiting at every corner!  The issue really comes down to your child’s personality.  Some children enjoy spontaneity while others prefer structured activities.

Communication Plan

Are there clear communication paths between organizers, kids, and parents? While we all hope the best for our kids, it’s possible your child could fall sick or suffer a minor, accidental injurywhile at the child care center. Be sure you and your child know what communication plans are in place to keep you updated.

Cost for the Child Care Center

Chose a child care program that’s within your budget, keeping in mind that a great programs don’t have to be expensive.  Some centers offer financial assistance so don’t be shy about asking.  Also keep in mind that, as with most things in life, you typically get what you pay for.