It’s a fact. Most tots and toddlers spend the majority of their waking moments in child-care programs. Child care comes in many forms both private and public and should be chosen to meet your needs and the needs of your child. Start your child-care search by asking family and friends for recommendations or contact a local referral agency. Once you have a list of potential caregivers, conduct interviews with them, visit their sites and ask for parent references. When visiting child-care centers you should consider these traits:
- Look for staffing ratios that are small.
- The temperament of the caregiver should be warm and caring.
- Look for an environment that is clean, comfortable and cheerful.
- Child-care daily routines are important, yet there should be enough variety to stimulate your child’s development.
- Child-care providers should have developmentally appropriate toys for each age group.
- Inspect indoor and outdoor play areas for safe equipment and adequate space.
- Meals and snacks should provide healthy nutrition.
- Parents should be informed of the day-to-day activities of their child
- Parents should sense that their child is important to the caregivers.
- All local licensing standards should be upheld.
- Child-care providers should make your child’s safety a top priority.
While cost and convenience are important considerations in selecting care, parents should also consider what is the best child-care arrangement based upon their children’s ages, abilities, interests and personalities. Contact your local Office of Family Support or school board for information pertaining to the different child-care options that may be available to you.(This article appeared in the fall 2005 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)