I am a mother of 3 children under 5. Unfortunately the search for the perfect child care center has been an epic tale of trials and errors. My husband and I finally came to the conclusion that one center will not be the absolute perfect spot for all 3 children, but in our tireless search we created a list of “No Compromise” must-haves.

Aside from being a full time mother looking for child care, I am also a full time Louisiana Child Care Health Consultant. I have the opportunity to work with several child care centers in various parishes.  Child care centers contact me to facilitate three hours of health and safety training required by the state of Louisiana to maintain their Type 1, 2 or 3 license.

During my trainings I stress things like child safety, staff health and parent satisfaction. I also train the staff on how to administer medications, how to recognize food allergies and when to call 911 among other things. I have compiled a tentative list of questions parents should ask or items they should look for when choosing the right child care center for their family. The purpose of this list is to guide parents in their decision-making process, feel free to add or delete questions that do not apply to your situation.

General Facts

  • What type of facility is this? How are you licensed: Type 1, 2 or 3?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • What ages do you accommodate?
  • Is there a space available for my child? If not, do you have a waiting list? These are very important questions especially if you are seeking a space for an infant. Infant spaces are usually secured during the third trimester of pregnancy.

Operations {Fees, Hours & Holidays}

  • What are your hours? Is there a fee for before and after care?
  • Do you offer a 2 or 3 day/week option; part-time option?
  • What is your holiday schedule? Do not assume child care centers follow the regular school schedule. Many of the centers have non-holiday days off for staff development. You will need to find alternate care.
  • What are your fees? Do I have to pay weekly or monthly? Do you accept cash, check or credit card?
  • Do I have to pay the full amount when my child is sick or on vacation?
  • Do you have an annual supply or registration fee? Some child care centers require an annual fee that ranges from $50-$200. These monies are often used to replenish supplies and pay for bulk items that benefit the entire facility.
  • Which supplies do you provide?

Children {Class activities}

  • What is the student-to-teacher ratio?
  • What type of curriculum do you use and is it posted?
  • What daily supplies do the parents need to bring?
  • What is the daily schedule of activities?
  • Do the children take naps?
  • How are the children disciplined?

 

Staff

  • Is the staff certified in CPR and first aid?
  • How is the staff screened; do you perform background checks?
  • What type of qualifications does the staff have?
  • Does the staff receive annual trainings to update skills?
  • What is the average age of the staff: college students vs. middle-aged adults?

Meals

  • Do I need to provide meals for my infant or child?
  • Is your facility breastfeeding friendly?
  • Where and how are the meals prepared?
  • Is there a weekly menu posted?
  • What types of foods are prepared? What types of drinks are given?
  • Can you accommodate my child’s food allergies?

Facility {Health, Safety, and Hygiene}

  • How is the facility cleaned on daily basis?
  • How are the soft and plastic toys cleaned, especially if children are teething?
  • How often is the tile or carpet cleaned?
  • What type of cleaning solutions do you use?
  • Do the children use a separate toilet from the adults? Are girls separated from boys?
  • How do you handle potty training?
  • Do you administer medications? If so, is your staff trained to administer them?
  • What is your sick child policy?
  • How often do the children go outside to play? Do you apply bug repellant or sunscreen?

So maybe your child is already in child care. And maybe you don’t know the answers to some of these questions. Don’t fret, go ask. It is never too late to ensure the safety of your child.

#RealTalkwithNurseNikki

Some of the questions were adapted from an list published on this website.