- When weighing your options, choose a daycare that’s realistically the best fit for your family.
- Communication and responsiveness are important early indicators when assessing providers.
- Listening to your parental intuition and asking simple questions can lead you to the right daycare.
I’m the CEO and cofounder of WeeCare, one of the largest networks for caregivers to find daycares for their children. Our team hears concerns and questions from parents about daycares daily, whether they’re wondering what kind of snacks their kids will be eating or how much time they’ll get to spend outdoors.
After two years in a pandemic that’s left childcare hanging by a thread, parents are looking for care that works for their schedules, with early drop-off and late pickup times high on their checklists. But there’s more to choosing a daycare than drop-off and pickup hours.
Here are five warning signs to keep an eye out for when choosing a daycare for your child.
The provider is unable to lead the classroom
When first touring a daycare, pay attention to the children’s behavior, as well as to the caregiver’s demeanor. Are kids screaming when their parents drop them off? While some separation anxiety can be expected, the care provider should have reasonable control over their classroom and be able to guide children in an environment conducive to play and learning.
While meltdowns are expected with little kids, take note if children seem happy and engaged in their activities.
They are unresponsive or bad at communicating issues
In the childcare industry, trust is paramount. While it must be earned over time, at least a degree of trust can be established from the get-go. Has this daycare provider been open, responsive, and communicative from the beginning? Poor responsiveness and an overall lack of communication are telltale signs that you should look for care elsewhere.
They don’t have a state license
Some daycares might look good on paper, but you should be doing your homework to make sure they’re all they say they are. Make sure any daycare provider you choose maintains a state license and doesn’t have any serious complaints or citations.
My advice is to be prepared to ask questions when speaking with a provider. Questions such as “When was your most recent inspection by licensing?” and “Have you had any citations in the past year? If so, what type were they?” are a good starting place.
Also, check their license number for any previous incidents or violations to spot red flags early. You can get licensing info and find vetted care providers easily through the WeeCare safety standards.
High staff turnover may indicate bigger problems
When evaluating your options, take a few minutes to talk to any assistant teachers to find out how long they’ve been at the daycare. If they’ve been there a short time, that may not be a good sign.
A daycare with long-tenured assistant teachers could mean more consistent levels of care for the children and a more positive experience for each family.
There’s a lack of cleanliness
As a baseline, every daycare should provide a clean, safe environment for children to learn and play in. There are different levels of cleanliness, but make sure the daycare passes muster. For example, providers should wash their hands after changing diapers because it’s a health and safety issue.
Additionally, you should ask what kind of healthy snacks and meals, if any, are served — as well as where they’re served, to make sure the area is up to your standards.