Evaluating a Child Care Center
A child care center should not just be a place where you drop off your child in the morning and pick him up in the evening, kind of like a glorified baby sitting service. Instead look for a program where caregivers check in with parents at the beginning and end of each day. The staff should be available to talk to you about problems you may be having at home with our child and offer parenting tips, parenting classes, books, tapes, and other resources to help you.
If you have family problems that require outside resources such as food stamps, subsidized housing, marital counseling, or developmental testing for your child, the staff should be familiar with local offices and organizations that would offer assistance. They should be interested in your role as mom or dad in your child’s life and encourage involvement from both parents.
Social activities should be hosted by the center so that you have a chance to get to know other families. If you are concerned about something your child is doing, the center may be dealing with similar behaviors, and they may have found an effective solution they can share with you. You should be able to observe what they’re doing and learn from the staff.
You want a staff that can sense changes in children, and you want them to be willing to respectfully question you or offer on-the-spot information. An early child care center’s goal should be to facilitate children’s cognitive, social, and emotional development.
- Do the caregivers/teachers seem to really like children?
- Do the caregivers/teachers get down on each child’s level to speak to the child?
- Do the caregivers hold babies often?
- Do the caregivers talk to and engage the babies when they’re awake?
- Is someone supervising the sleeping babies and toddlers?
- Do the caregivers hold babies when they’re crying?
- Do the caregivers meet children’s needs quickly even when they are busy?
- Are the caregivers/teachers trained in CPR, first aid, and early childhood development and education?
- Are the caregivers involved in continuing education programs?
- How long have caregivers/teachers been working for the center?
- Is the director and assistant director trained and experienced in early childhood development and education with at least a bachelor’s degree and two years of experience in child care settings?
- Does the lead teacher have a bachelor’s degree in a child-related field?
- Has the teacher worked in child care for at least one year?
Reprinted with the permission of the National Association of Social Workers.
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