Childcare is one of your biggest, and hardest, decisions you have to face as a parent. You hear horror stories of bad daycare all the time. Therefore, it pays to be picky in order to ensure your child’s safety and enrichment. Around six months before you need daycare start looking for daycare and keep these 5 signs of bad childcare in mind as you search.
1. A Patchy Reputation
Keep the reviews of other parents in mind as you search for childcare. Ask the specifics about any positive or negative comments received from parents, just to ensure that their situation applies to your family. Be sure to ask whether or not a child has ever been lost or injured. Chances are, if several parents are displeased with a center, it’s best to look elsewhere. As always, trust your impression of a place. If you are hesitant about a place keep looking.
2. Centers Without Clearly Established Guidelines
Daycare centers, or even home daycares, that cannot provide you with written guidelines, rules, and regulations should not be trusted. If they cannot outline their rules, and adhere to them, chances are they are not organized enough to be entrusted with your child. What would they do in an emergency? What is their sick child policy? If they seem too relaxed about it, cross that place off your list. Furthermore, choose another place if they do not require the children and staff to be current on their immunizations and regular check-ups because that is simply a health hazard. Lastly, if they have closed-door policies consider that as a big red flag. A place that discourages parents dropping by unannounced probably has something to hide.
3. Boring or Absent Curriculum
Children need change, variety, stimulation, and enrichment to grow. The best childcare centers offer a plethora of both group and individual activities. If a center either does not have a daily program or it has a curriculum that is dull, consider those as warning signs. A curriculum red flag is when television or other media is used as a large part of the daily plan. Search in the center for art hung on the walls, a decent supply of art supplies, and look for numerous age-appropriate toys. Ask about outings and how they are handled. Does the center celebrate holidays and which ones?
4. Lack of Qualified Staff
If the majority of the staff does not have at least a two year degree in early childhood development, keep looking. Furthermore, the staff should be trained in CPR and potentially first aid. Watch how they interact with the children in their care, if the staff used primarily baby-talk or seems harsh walk away. Look for accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) to ensure the highest standards of care.
5. Dirty or Questionable Facilities
You want a facility that looks clean and well maintained. Staff should wash their hands after every diaper change. Toys should be in good repair, cleaned and sanitized. Children should have space to romp and play. Look for general safety and evidence of childproofing. If things seem dirty or unsafe, walk away.