How To Properly Evaluate A Daycare Center

by admin on February 15, 2009

The day care industry is expanding. There are now more than 100,000 licensed child-care centers and 250,000 licensed family day care homes across the United States.

The market for day care increases every year as the working mother in society increasingly return to work to contribute financially to the ongoing household expenses. Day care centers have now proven to be a lucrative niche for owner operators, especially those who have purchased franchises. The day care industry is expanding. There are now more than 100,000 licensed child-care centers and 250,000 licensed family day care homes across the United States.

An overall increase in professionalism has helped to enhance the reputation of the child care and day care field. Only 20-30 years ago, child care was a cottage industry operating out of remodeled houses, granny flats or small business shop fronts. Early centers were essentially baby-sitting facilities. Today’s day care centers, frequently part of regional or national chains, are larger and more professionally run. Because parents want their children to get educational services, many centers require that their caregivers have early childhood education degrees. The day care industry is regulated by state law, and sometimes also by county or city, and the regulations vary widely by state.

The day-care center industry has changed a lot over the past 15 years, and industry professionals are predicting that it will change even more by the year 2010. Family-run day care centers seem to be holding their own because they are especially popular for infants and younger toddlers whose parents are looking for the family style influence. However, the smaller commercial centers are disappearing, due to difficulties in meeting increased government regulation, and buyouts by regional or national chains. The regional and national daycare chains will no doubt continue to grow. Unfortunately, those children can climb counters. And chairs. And tables. And balconies

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.

Staff
• 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?

Programs
• Does the program follow children’s changing and developing interests?
• Do the caregivers/teachers and children enjoy being together?
• Is there enough staff to serve the children? (Ask local experts about the best staff to child ratios for different age groups.)
• Is the atmosphere bright and pleasant?
• Is the program accredited and/or licensed and/or regulated?
• Are there different areas for resting, quiet play, creative play, and active play?
• Is there enough space for the children in each of these areas?
• Is there a daily balance of story time, activity time, and creative playtime?
• Are specific activities geared for each age group?
• Are there enough toys and learning materials for the number of children?
• Do the older children look stimulated and engaged?
• Do you agree with the way the center sets limits and consequences for the children?
• Do you hear the sounds of happy, engaged children?
• Are surprise visits by parents encouraged?
• Do you sense that your child will be happy there?
• From observing the older children, do you anticipate that the program will be appropriate for your child as he grows and enters the preschool years?

Relationship With the Family
• Are children and parents greeted when they arrive?
• Will the caregivers/teachers tell you what your child is doing every day?
• Will the caregivers/teachers speak to you about problems your child is having and ask if you are seeing those behaviors at home and, if so, ask what you’re doing about them?
• Will the caregivers/teachers share their solutions to problems your child is having with you?
• Will the caregivers/teachers share your baby’s progress and accomplishments each day?
• Are parents’ ideas welcome? Are there ways for you to be involved with the center?
• Does the center offer parenting education?
• Does the center offer special opportunities for the families?
• Is the staff familiar with local resources families may need and can they make referrals in a timely manner?

Health and Safety
• Are toxic substances such as cleaning supplies and pest killers kept away for children?
• Has the building been checked for dangerous substances such as radon, lead, and asbestos?
• Is poison control information posted?
• Does the center have an emergency plan if a child gets injured, sick, or lost?
• Does the center have first aid kits?
• Does the center have information about who to contact in an emergency?
• Does the center have a plan in case of fire, tornado, flood, blizzard, earthquake, or terrorist attack in the area?
• Does the center have practice drills once every month?
• Can the staff see each other at all times, so a child is never alone with one caregiver?
• Have all the caregivers gone through a background check?
• Have the caregivers been trained on how to prevent child abuse, how to recognize signs of child abuse, and how to report suspected child abuse?
• Does the center keep medications out of reach of children?
• Are caregivers trained to understand medication labels so that the right child gets the right amount of the right medication at the right time?
• Have caregivers been trained on how to keep children healthy and safe from injury and illness?
• Do caregivers know hot give first aid and CPR to young children and babies?
• Are all child care staff, volunteers, and substitutes informed of an implementing safe sleep policies (infants should sleep on their backs) to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)?
• Is there an outdoor play area? Is it fenced and secure? Does it have a variety of safe play equipment?
• Can the caregivers/teachers see the entire playground at all times?
• Are toys clean, safe, and within reach of the children and crawling babies?
• Is the eating area clean?
• Is there a sanitized, safe area for diaper changes?
• Do all caregivers and children wash their hands often, especially after eating, using the bathroom, or changing diapers?
• Do caregivers dispose of the diaper without dirtying any other surface, and do they clean and sanitize the surface after the changing process?
• Is the diaper changing area large enough to accommodate all of the babies in the center?
• Is there adequate supervision for other babies and toddlers when a staff member is changing a child’s diaper?
• Are appropriate snacks given during the day?

The success of your business lies only on your hands and starting your daycare business could be a make or break situation. If you are able to plan ahead and are able to prioritize things, your business venture would surely be a success. Otherwise, there is a tendency that all your efforts would be put to waste if you fail to meet the expectations of your clients as well as your self.

See: How to start a daycare center

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