5 Tips When Looking for a Daycare

5 Tips When Looking for a Daycare

 

Many moms in Philadelphia know how hard it is to find a childcare center for their babies or younger kids. In many cases, enrollment has to begin before your child is even born. With all the stress of finding a childcare center, how do you know if it is right for you? Philadelphia and the surrounding areas have so many excellent schools. Here are 5 tips when looking for  a daycare in Philadelphia. 

Philadelphia Lifestyle newborn photography. New little baby girl curled up in mom's arms looking up at her. daycare

5 Tips When Looking for a Daycare

 

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1.Do your Research 

The first thing to do when looking for a child care center is to look around at what is close to you and your office. I remember being told it is always best to have the daycare close to work, so you can hop over from the office to the school if you have to pick up your child for any reason. After you do your Google research, remember to ask all your mom groups, including some social media groups. It’s always great to have as many perspectives as possible. Take all the input and create a list for yourself of places you want to consider.  

2. Check for Accreditation.

As a former educator, this was always big on my list of must-haves! Schools can hold several accreditations. In Pennsylvania, childcare centers are rated by the Keystone STARS, a program from the Office of Child Development and Early Learning. The Pa. Keystones is a systemic approach to assess and communicate the level of quality and improve early and school-aged care and education centers.  

NAEYC awards the highest level of early childhood accreditation standards, which are the most rigorous and challenging to obtain. Schools must also work to maintain accreditation. NAEYC not only requires early childhood centers to have proper health and safety but also curriculums for the academic and social growth of kids of all ages.  You can log into their website and make this your starting point.  They list all the schools that hold an accreditation with them on their website by state,  

When looking for a child care center, ask your school of childcare if it has either accreditation. Ask them how they work towards maintaining them as well. You can also find the Pennsylvania Child Care Center Regulations list on its website, which includes safety standards, staff training, staff-to-child ratio, and health.  

Little girl picking flowers in a garden laughing at the camera.


3. Interview Different Centers

Now that you have created your list of options, you want to make a list of questions you want to ask over the phone. I like to always start over the phone before I start driving everywhere. This helps me narrow places down. Before you call, consider having a notepad so you can write down notes and answers to your questions. Pay attention to how the person on the call responds to your questions. The top questions I always like to ask are:

  • Are you a licensed Center in the state of Pa. 
  • Do you have accreditations from the state? National? 
  • What is your philosophy? 
  • What is your communication routine with your parents? 
  • Tell me about your school’s safety plan. 
  • Are your doors locked to get in? 
  • What is your fire safety plan?
  • What is your drop-off and pickup routine? 
  • Do you have a late pickup policy?
  • Is there an academic curriculum? 
  • Is the staff CPR trained?
  • What level of certification does the staff obtain?
  • How do children engage socially? 
  • Tell me about lunchtime
  • and the infant room staff-to-baby ratio.
  • How does naptime work?
  • What are your hours? 
  • What are your tuition rates? 

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4. In-person visits

After your phone interviews, you can begin to narrow your list down. Review your questions and answers with each center. Compile a list of schools you want to visit and set up those dates. An in-person visit is always good to see how the staff responds to you in person. It’s also a great time to see all licensed, trained caregivers in action. You can also experience the school’s safety procedure for a new person in the building. 

While touring, pay attention to the following:

  • How are the children socializing?
  • Are the kids happy? 
  • Is the staff happy?
  • Look for safety: smoke detectors and choking hazards. 
  • Cleanliness: is there a sanitizing station for used toys? 
  • Are kids and staff following a washing hands procedure? 
  • Is the staff interacting with the kids? 

Little girl with green dress. She is laughing out loud as the sunset glistens through the trees behind her and on her hair.5. Make an Unannounced Drop In

Now that you have narrowed your list consider visiting the schools left on it. This will give you an accurate idea of how the school operates when the staff has not been told you are coming. Try to visit the center at a different time of day so you get a different perspective of the day. 

5 Tips When Looking for a Daycare

Be bold and reach out using social media and ask to speak to families that are currently enrolled or have been in the past. We were babysitters for references; we should ask the same of those who will have our kids all day. Take more than one; take many to have as many perspectives as possible. The more research you can do, the better for your family.  

If anything about any school makes you feel uneasy, cross it off your list. If you do not think it will work for you, it probably won’t be a good fit for your child. You want to go to work and be at ease that your baby or children are in safe hands, being loved and cared for. 

I hope these 5 steps when looking for a daycare have made the start to your search a little smoother.  Jump over to my blog and find some more helpful tips.  Im a Philadelphia Mom, and photographer; I capture belly to life.

 

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