Quality Child Care – STEP 3

STEP 3: Getting to Know Your Child Care Provider – The Site Visit

Once you have a better idea of the type of child care you need, it is important to meet with your child care provider. Make an appointment to visit the child care provider or center. Watch the caregiver in action. See how he or she connects with the children. Does the caregiver read a baby’s cues? Does the caregiver respond to the children’s needs and wishes? It is a good idea to take notes or use a child care checklist to help you evaluate the prospect. Do not be afraid to ask questions, such as: Are you certified, licensed or accredited? Are you trained in CPR/infant first aid? How often do you replace staff members? What would you do if my child would not stop crying? What sort of activities and projects do you work on with children? How do you discipline children when you see tantrums, pushing or fighting? What is the adult-to-child ratio?

What to look for during your interview and site visit:

  • Positive Caregiving: Look for a provider who is caring, encouraging and meeting the needs of the children in his or her care. Look for how often he/she encourages the children to talk. Does he/she ask questions that are open-ended, and can’t easily be answered with “Yes” or “No?” These are just a few examples of the interactions to look for in positive caregiving.
  • Low Adult-to-Child Ratio: You want your child to get the attention that is needed. The adult-to-child ratio simply means the number of children for which each adult provider cares. The smaller the number of children each adult provider looks after, the more individual attention and care your child will receive.
  • Planned Activities Right for a Child’s Age: The activities and subjects your child learns should be carefully planned, fun and right for your child’s age. Child care that is challenging and provides your child with clear goals will keep him/her active and engaged. A good provider uses books and toys that are right for your child’s age. The age-appropriateness of a book, toy or craft can usually be found on the packaging – be sure to read it.
  • Family Involvement: Quality care providers want to have open communication with you, the parent. They will notify you about current and future events, activities, menus, staff changes and field trips. You should feel free to ask questions and express concerns. Open houses, parent-teacher meetings, volunteering and advice-giving groups are activities win which parents can get involved.
  • Health and Safety: Staff at child care centers should monitor cleanliness, have up-to-date CPR and first aid certifications, and have an emergency preparation plan. Likewise, even when hiring an in-home or a family child care provider, ask how this person would handle an emergency. Providers should watch the children at all times. Also, make sure there is good lighting, temperature and noise control. A good provider teaches children about proper nutrition, provides them with healthy snacks and encourages good hygiene.

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