When assessing daycare safety, check whether the center is certified per state standards, has manageable group sizes, keeps transparent care and discipline policies, and allows parents to check in on kids easily.
It’s difficult to trust people with your kids. And if your children are in daycare while you work full time, you don’t want to trust just anyone with them forty hours or more per week. Child Care Aware, a child advocacy organization, reports that nearly eleven million kids under 5 years old in America are in daycare.1 If yours are too, ask these questions to find the safest daycare for your kids.
Is the Daycare Center Certified?
All reputable and safe daycares should be licensed and have that piece of paper on display. In order to open a licensed daycare, the owners generally have to contact the child services department in their state. However, each state has its own laws and some don’t require licensing at all. Check to see the childcare laws in your state to ensure the daycare you’re entrusting your child to has met all area requirements.
How Many Kids Are Enrolled?
Some states have a limit on the number of children a daycare can take in—especially at home-based daycare centers. Home-based daycares versus center-based daycares differ tremendously, as the former is at someone’s personal residence and the latter is at a commercial setting. If you prefer your child to be in a more intimate setting, choose a home-based daycare center. No matter which type of daycare you choose, the center should have one adult for every three to five children.
How Do Workers Interact with Kids?
How do you interact with your infant or toddler? That’s how you want to see daycare workers communicating with your child, too. Spend time observing the daycare center workers to see if they get down on the ground to play with kids and treat them with respect and kindness. If the workers seem unfriendly or kids shy away from them, consider going elsewhere.
What Policies Are in Place for Regular Operation and Discipline?
What kind of rules does your daycare implement? What’s their disciplinary protocol? Thoroughly read the care center’s rules and regulations before enrolling your child so you know exactly what you’re getting into.
Does the Daycare Offer Parent Cam Observation?
Does the childcare center you’re choosing have a live video feed—secured with a password—for parents? Being able to check in on your kid at all hours not only provides you with peace of mind but also gives daycare staff accountability since someone could always be watching.
How Does the Daycare Separate Kids?
Infants shouldn’t be in a room with rambunctious 4-year-olds—not to mention all their germs. Great daycares have private nurseries for infants and separate areas with age-appropriate toys and play equipment for older kids. This may vary if you’re opting for a home-based daycare center, but class numbers will be smaller there, making it easier for the workers to address all the kids’ needs.
What Should You Do If You Suspect Abuse at Your Childcare Center?
If your child comes home with any bumps, bruises, or trauma, you need to pull them out of there immediately. Then, contact your local police department, Child Protective Services department, and the Childhelp National Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). Although most licensed childcare centers carefully vet employees, things may slip through the cracks and endanger your child.
Daycare can be a lifesaver for working parents or guardians, but it’s not the right fit for everyone. If you’d rather hire in-home help to watch your kids, take a look at our top nanny cam picks to ensure your little one is looked after.
- Child Care Aware of America, “About Child Care”