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5 Tips for Choosing a Daycare

posted: 04/07/16
by: Kristina Wilson
picture of two girls at daycare
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When it comes to your child, choosing a daycare is one of the first big decisions you will have to make. It can be a stressful and overwhelming task. Before you spend your valuable time visiting a bunch of places, here are some things you should consider:

1. Decide what kind of facility is right for your family. Most states have two basic types of facilities: home-based and commercial. Home-based facilities are daycares that are in a personal home, usually the home of the main caregiver. These places are typically licensed for a much smaller amount of children and usually are mixed age. Commercial daycares are typically much bigger facilities (they can be housed in places like the local YMCA), and are usually divided by age group. Both have pros and cons associated with their type and it is usually helpful to visit at least one of each to understand the difference and see which feels right for your family.

2. Ask to see the full year calendar for closings. Some facilities use the school holiday calendar and some don't. If you have a school age child this might be fine, but if you don't, you need to be ready to find alternate coverage for all of the breaks: winter break, spring break, Columbus Day, etc. I have seen facilities with as few as a couple days off each year and some with as many as 5 or 6 full weeks off.

3. Ask about the daycare's education philosophy. While the basic job of a daycare is to love the children, how the teachers educate and interact with the children is very important. Are there lesson plans or do the children do free play most of the day? Do they use TV or other electronics to engage the children? Your child will be spending a lot of time in daycare, make sure they are doing and teaching in a way that aligns with your values.

4. Make sure the payment terms work for your family. Some places charge by semester and some charge by month. Also check to see if the daycare accepts credit cards so that you can get points, points, points, for all the money you are spending on childcare.

5. Look up the facility's license online and make sure it is current. Also review the violations but don't be overwhelmed if you seem some. It is very rare for a facility to not have violations and sometimes the wording of the violations are more severe than the actual infractions. What is important is that you confirm that the facility is licensed and that any infractions they were resolved quickly. In many states it is legal to operate a home based facility without a license. Many of these places give great care but it is important to remember that they do not have official oversight, which may or may not be an ideal choice for some families.


Once you've made careful consideration of all of the above, you can feel confident you're making a good, well-informed decision.

Kristina Wilson is the CEO of the innovative childcare agency, Sitters Studio. She lives in New York City with her husband and son, Lincoln.