How to Choose Childcare

Weighing Your Options

A Day Care Center

These licensed businesses typically care for 12 or more kids and employ multiple caregivers. Because they’re open long hours and don’t close when a staff member falls ill or takes a vacation, they can be very dependable. Being around lots of children can mean lots of stimulation for your toddler. But it can also mean lots of germs—so you can count on your little one getting sick frequently. Another factor to consider is that your child may not get as much individual attention at a day care center as he would with family or in-home care.

Safety check
Different states have different standards for day care centers; some are better than others. Most states require day care centers to be licensed, inspected annually and meet minimum health, safety and caregiver training standards.

What to look for
*A stimulating environment with lots of activities and room to explore
*Clean, tidy conditions (be sure to inspect the changing table!)
*Energetic, enthusiastic and loving caregivers who talk to kids at their eye level
*Trained staff, preferably with credentials such as a child development associate (CDA) or a BA degree in early childhood education
*Caregivers assigned to specific children for greater continuity of care
*A fenced-in outdoor play area with varied and safe equipment
*Accreditation by organizations like the National Association for the Education of Young Children or the National Association of Child Care Professionals

Red flags
*Frequent staff turnover—it could be a sign of poor management and mean a lack of consistency for the kids
*A director or staff that is unresponsive and doesn’t make an effort to answer all your questions