Ask friends and family for recommendations.
The best place to start to find the best child daycare in your area is to ask your neighbors, friends and family to let you know about their experiences with childcare centers in the area. Or, if they don’t have direct experience with any of them, ask them if they’ve heard anything about any of the childcare centers. In my search for child daycare, I asked a neighbor who I know has two young children in childcare centers. By talking with her, I found out that one of the childcare centers I was considering might not be the best choice. It seems a bunch of the kids who attended that center had become ill, and it turned out the center had not been cleaning its toys frequently enough. Tips such as this help guide you away from the worst child daycare. Plus, if many of the people you speak to refer you to the same childcare centers, you know those are good ones.
Check childcare centers’ inspection reports.
You can find out the results of state inspections of child daycare centers. Simply visit the Web site of your state’s daycare regulatory agency. In Texas, it is called the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, and its Web site address is http://www.dfps.state.tx.us. There, I was able to click on Child Care Licensing to link to the results of inspections of child daycare centers in my area. By taking this step on the Web site for your state’s regulatory agency for child daycare, you can compare any of the options that you have been considering. I learned that one of the childcare centers I was considering had a report that one of the staff members had pinched a child. That didn’t impress me to say the least, so I started looking at others. This type of information is a good tool for comparisons probably more than just examining one child daycare option. You have to keep in mind that centers get black marks on their inspections many times for simple paperwork problems.
Narrow your choices and visit those childcare centers.
Once you’ve narrowed down your options using informal tips, advice from others, the results of state inspections and any other information you happen to have, it’s time to visit a few childcare centers in person. There’s nothing like your own instincts when it comes to raising your children, so trust yours if you walk into a place and it just doesn’t feel right. Before you go, call ahead and schedule an appointment. Plan to spend an hour or more getting a tour of the facilities, plus be sure to stick around a bit in the background to just see how the staff and kids interact. Have a list of questions ready for the director as well as the staff. It’s also a good idea to pop in unannounced a few days later to make sure what you saw previously was what actually goes on at the child daycare center on a regular basis. And if a director has a problem with you being there, take it as a sign that this particular child daycare option is probably not for you. Look for one with an open-door policy and friendly staff who welcome your participation.