Observations and Evaluations
Be sure to visit the daycare while children are there. Observe the interaction between caregivers and children. Count how many adults supervise how many children. “Ideally, there should be three to four infants or toddlers per caregiver and five to six preschoolers per adult,” Holahan recommends.
Evaluate the cleanliness of the facility. Food preparation should be segregated from toileting and diapering areas. Is there an isolated place for children who become ill during the day? What arrangements does the daycare provider make for the care of sick children?
Review the curriculum. Are there stimulating, age-appropriate toys, games, and books? Do the children engage in organized activities? Is there a place for naps and quiet play?
Will the children have the opportunity for outdoor activities? Playgrounds should be well protected from traffic. Equipment should be in good condition, and the ground should be cushioned to avoid serious injuries.
A Cooperative Effort
The relationship between parent and caregiver will be significant. Parents should feel comfortable with the daycare provider. Likewise, providers have certain expectations of parents. Barbara Barrow, Director of The Olive Tree Child Care Center and The Olive Tree Baby Branch in Bloomfield, New Jersey, says, “We like to see cooperation between the parents and ourselves.”
Barrow suggests that the provider should be told when something disturbing happens at home since it may affect a child’s behavior throughout the day. Parents should call the daycare when a child will not be attending. If a child becomes sick while at daycare, parents should respond immediately. Children should be picked up on time and payment should be prompt.
A careful study of all the options will assure a quality daycare experience for both parents and children.