10 Tips for Evaluating Your Child's Care

If you haven't done so lately, there is no better time than now to revisit your child's caregiver and childcare setting to ensure your choice remains what is best for your child and your family.

Here's a list of what your family should review every few months regarding your childcare needs.

1

Is Your Child Happy?

Teacher helping young student to draw on an easel
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Your child's environment may be safe and offer all sorts of early education activities, but a primary question that every parent should ask is "Is my child truly happy at child care?"

While many kids have bouts of separation anxiety or days where they simply don't want to go to daycare, parents should assess whether their tot is comfortable at child care (at least most of the time).

Does your youngster have friends, look forward to special events or days, and seem to have a bond with the care provider? Do they engage socially and seem to thrive in their care setting? If not, it might be time to re-evaluate and seek a different childcare setting.

2

Is Your Child's Caregiver Passionate About Kids?

Your child's teacher/provider may have impressive credentials, but most parents want a caregiver who has a genuine love for kids and nurturing them. This is subjective, but parents want to feel like a child's caregiver views their job as a blessing and that kids are a joy to be around.

If you get the sense that your caregiver would rather be doing something else, it may be time to find a replacement.

3

Is Your Child's Care Environment Safe?

Children seem to be drawn to dangerous objects and potentially hazardous playthings. Carefully evaluate whether your child's in-home provider has all the bases covered in terms of home safety.

Daycare centers should have a list of safety precautions and procedures and be able to provide detailed explanations of each.

Don't forget to ask about drop-off and departure safety protocols and be sure you're comfortable with the answers given.

4

Are You Pleased With Your Child's Growth and Learning at Child Care?

In both the scientific and parental communities, people can disagree on the importance of structured early education to prepare kids for preschool and kindergarten.

Some argue that attending to basic needs, providing lots of safe and fun free play, and encouraging social interaction is sufficient.

Others, however, believe that a focus on early reading and math as well as introducing academic concepts and even foreign language is essential for success later.

Determine what your goals and expectations are for your child at their current stage, then be sure they are being met to your satisfaction.

5

Do You Communicate Well With Your Child's Care Provider?

Communications continue to be a primary "make-or-break" factor with the long-term satisfaction of childcare arrangements. Be sure to utilize an early educator or care provider whose communication style works with yours.

Do you want a daily report of activities and to know your child's eating/sleeping habits in detail? Some parents do; others consider it unnecessary.

Do you like a provider who sets weekly themes and creates special days (like wearing red on Thursday), or do these types of activities drive you crazy? Does your provider request regular conferences?

Remember: this is a partnership, so it needs to work for everyone.

6

Do You Have That Lovin' Feeling About Your Babysitter?

Most of the time, parents have an intuitive feeling about a babysitter or caregiver and rely on those instincts to make childcare decisions. While those feelings shouldn't be the sole reason to choose or not choose a care provider, they should be strongly considered.

You want to feel confident in your provider's abilities and personality. Spend time with your babysitter chatting about interests, career plans, etc., to make sure your "parent radar" bodes well.

7

Do Discipline Approaches and Care Styles Mesh?

There is no one "correct" way to raise a child. But you want your child raised your way. Make sure you and your child's care provider agree on approaches to discipline, character development, religious observances, and other social and emotional issues. This can help avoid conflict or misunderstandings.

8

Does Your Caregiver Know Latest Medical Advice?

Advice on how to safely care for infants and toddlers changes as new information is discovered. Ensure that your care provider keeps up with the latest recommendations and follows the advice of pediatric associations and other reputable health authorities.

Examples include sleep position and crib safety to prevent sudden infant death syndrome and flu immunization for care providers who work with infants.

9

Are Credentials/Licensing Up-To-Date?

Licensing requirements and regulations regarding childcare providers may differ by state or organization, but parents should remain knowledgeable of requirements and whether their provider is up to date.

Daycare centers often have additional credentialing options. Ask your care provider about inspections and credentials as well as the criteria used.

This information is typically available online for easy review so that parents can understand standards and expectations.

If you choose to use someone who is not licensed (such as a part-time babysitter), at least make sure that the caregiver has basic first-aid/CPR training.

10

What Is Your Provider's Back-Up Plan for Sickness?

Parents usually hire caregivers so that they can work themselves, creating a predicament when the childcare provider can't work. But with advance planning, a Plan B can often be put into place effectively.

While another teacher can be brought in easily at a daycare, in-home providers can also arrange for a backup caregiver for times when they are sick or unable to work.

Parents should also make plans for when their own tot is sick and can't attend daycare.

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  3. Lonigan CJ, Purpura DJ, Wilson SB, Walker PM, Clancy-Menchetti J. Evaluating the components of an emergent literacy intervention for preschool children at risk for reading difficulties. J Exp Child Psychol. 2013;114(1):111-130. doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2012.08.010