Finding the right child care program for your family isn’t just important – it can be an intimidating or scary process. There are many things you should know before you go into the process that can make it easier, though.
When looking for a child care program, be sure to keep these tips in mind:
- Visit the child care program when it is open and children are there.
- Ask questions: bring along the checklist in this booklet to help you out.
- Make sure the child care program is licensed or registered with New York State and has enough teachers or staff for the number and ages of children that are present.
- Talk with parents whose children have attended the child care program. What are their thoughts? Ask them what their experience has been like.
- If you don’t feel comfortable, it’s not the right fit. There’s no shame in visiting a program and leaving because you don’t get a good vibe. Being comfortable leaving your child there each day is one of the most important aspects about choosing child care.
- Make sure the cost of the program is in your price range. If not, consider other programs or means of making child care more affordable.
- Don’t stop till you’re satisfied. It’s OK to visit multiple programs and call around until you find a child care program that is the perfect fit for you, your family, and – most importantly – your child.
Because you have an infant or toddler, you should definitely pay attention to these indicators in the child care program:
- Babies are not disciplined, and are cared for with a comforting voice and gentle touch;
- Toddlers are fed smaller portions, and mealtime is used for learning skills like self-feeding or using a fork;
- The provider(s) understand that (1) toddlers are just beginning to talk and when upset may bite, hit, kick, or have a tantrum instead of using words, (2) do not know how to share toys, and (3) may get frustrated with an activity and need help finding something else to do;
- The program has soft furniture and toys when toddlers need quiet space and time;
- Children can be seen and heard during naptime, each child has their own napping space and materials, and infants sleep when needed and sleep on their backs;
- Toys are safe and appropriate for infants and toddlers;
- The provider(s) work with parents to help toddlers with toilet use; toileting accidents are handled calmly.
If you ever have any questions about what to look for in a child care program specific to infants and toddlers, contact your local Child Care Resource & Referral Agency. If you’re located in Buffalo/WNY, call Child Care Resource Network at 716-877-6666 or visit our website at http://www.wnychildren.org.
Information in this article was adapted from several resources from NYS OCFS. Learn more here: http://ocfs.ny.gov/main/cps/tips.asp