September 15, 2009
Evaluating Your Child Care Choice
Considering the time and effort you put into choosing an early childhood program, it’s common to ask yourself if you made the right decision. It is essential that you know what to expect – and that the program is successful in meeting those expectations. Use these guidelines to help evaluate your choice:
During the first few weeks:
- You and your child should recognize the staff members. Is there some consistency in who cares for your child each day? Have you been introduced to each staff member that you’ve seen?
- The staff should know your child by name, and should recognize you as his or her parent. Policies on who can pick up your child should have been clearly explained and always enforced. Does the staff ask for identification if they don’t recognize the person who is picking up your child?
- While it is expected that your child will have some difficulty separating from you during this transitional period, you should begin to hear regular news of ‘bright moments’. Does your child speak warmly about certain activities, classmates, or caregivers? Does the staff report enjoyable experiences shared with your child?
- Continued daily communication is essential. Are you receiving a daily report from the staff? Do the caregivers seem to know your child personally? Can they answer specific questions about your child’s day?
- Visit the center unexpectedly. The staff should be comfortable with a visit at any time. Do they seem nervous? Why?
- Pay careful attention to what is going on when you pick up and drop off your child. Are the children actively engaged? Do they seem happy?
After the transitional period ends, you should continue to evaluate your child care program. Maintain frequent, honest communication with your child’s caregivers, and with the program director. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and don’t accept less than the best! Your child is worth it.