5 Things to Look for When Selecting a Child Care Center

February 1st, 2013 watchmegrowdaycarecenter

Besides the obvious considerations of location, the physical facility, and cost of an early education/childcare center, the following are 5 key things to look for in selecting a quality child care experience:

 

  1. Center Management

Most early childhood centers are open a minimum of 55 to 60 hours per week.  This often means that the Center is managed by someone other than the Director for a substantial period of time.  Parents should check not only the credentials of the Director but also inquire as to the management of the Center when the Director is not there.  This is especially important when dealing with “corporate” chain centers who’s Directors are often not on site as often, and their replacements are often unqualified or do not possess the authority to effectively manage the Center.

 

  1. Curriculum

Ask who develops the curriculum and how it is implemented.  All Centers will tell you about their curriculum, but it is important to ask for more detailed information.   Some Centers use “canned” of Center-wide curriculum while others have each classroom develop their own curriculum.   Choose a Center that develops their curriculum by classroom.  There is such a difference developmentally among children from infants to 4 years of age that “canned curriculum” does not address.  Although these Centers’s will tell you they adjust the curriculum to the age of their classroom, it often will not compare to the quality of curriculum that is developed by the teacher of a specific classroom.  Not only does a Lead Teacher know the developmental level and requirements of their classroom,  but having a Teacher implement curriculum that they have developed and have a vested interest in is much better than a Teacher implementing curriculum that has been forced upon them.

 

  1. Take a Tour!

Always take a tour of the Center you are considering.  Beware of Centers that require an appointment to tour!  Often, Centers require an appointment because their Director is not at the Center during parts of the day and the replacement is not qualified to give a tour.  If the replacement is not qualified to give a tour, how qualified are they to manage the Center?  A tour is the perfect opportunity not only to view the Center in operation but to gather information and get questions answered.  Any Center that requires an appointment to tour should raise a red flag for a parent and require further investigation.

 

  1. Staff Turnover

Ask the Director how long they have been in their position as well as how long your child’s potential Teacher has held their position.   Although some turnover should be expected in a child care setting due to Teachers moving on to school districts, etc., make sure the turnover is not excessive.  Find out the educational background and experience of the Director and Teacher.  Based on the Center’s philosophy, operation, and treatment of their staff you will often find quite a difference in staff turnover and quality between potential Centers.

 

  1. Owner Involvement

Unfortunately, there has been an increase in chain child care centers.  Although not all chain centers are alike, many rely on the physical facility and brand recognition to attract students.  Childcare and education however is very personal.  The saying “no one cares for their business like an owner does” is known because it’s true.  Do the owners of the Center know their staff and do they know the children enrolled at their Center?  Are they involved in the daily operation of the Center?  Or, is the Center simply a business to them?  Usually, greater ownership involvement results in a higher level of care and better programs.

 

Take these 5 considerations into account when evaluating an early childhood education program.  Your child’s early childhood development and education are too important not to make an educated and informed decision!

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