Choosing the right day care center for your toddler is one of the toughest decisions you’ll ever make. You obviously want to know you’re leaving them in safe and capable hands, but how can you tell you’re making the right choice?
It can be extremely nerve-wracking; particularly if you’re switching day care centers because of a bad experience. However, while it’s normal to be nervous, there are a few things you can look out for on your search, to ensure you end up choosing the very best for your little one.
Here, you’ll discover some of the main red flags to watch out for when visiting a day care center. Some are obvious, while others you need to pay close attention to. So, if you spot any of these red flags below, it’s best to move on…
1. It Isn’t Licensed
All day care centers need to be licensed. This ensures they are offering a healthy, nurturing and safe environment. The license requirements will vary depending upon each state, so it’s worth doing your research to discover the particular laws in the state you reside.
Most respectable day care centers will have their license displayed on the premises. However, if you don’t see one don’t be afraid to ask. If they are unlicensed, you should absolutely walk away.
Tip: If you really want to make sure the day care center is safe and trustworthy, you’ll want to look for ones that are accredited. By law, they don’t need to be accredited, but it is a higher authorization than a license. Therefore, if a day center is accredited you know it’s one of the best in the area.
2. There Are Too Many Children
When you visit the day care, take a look around to see how many children there are. Obviously, you want to know there are other children who attend, but it’s important there aren’t too many children. This is because if there feels to be too many children and not enough staff, the center could be breaking legislation.
You need to know when you drop your toddler off, they’re going to be well looked after. If there are too many kids and not enough adults, it’s impossible for them to keep a constant eye on your little one or give them the attention they need.
Again, the legal requirements for how many children there should be per caregiver will vary between states. However, generally it’s between four to six children for each caregiver.
3. An Outdated, Non-Stimulating Environment
Another thing to watch out for on your visit is how stimulating the environment is. Are the toys up-to-date or are they outdated? If it doesn’t come across as stimulating, it’s best to look for another center.
The trouble is, if the day care isn’t stimulating, it’s going to have a negative effect on your toddler’s development. Ask staff about the activities they provide and see whether they are following any specific philosophies in terms of education.
You can also look at the kids within the center to see whether they appear unhappy or bored. If they do, it’s a sure sign they are under-stimulated.
4. The Staff Turnover Is High
This one’s a little harder to detect, but it’s definitely something you’ll want to look into. If the staff are continuously changing, it’s a good indicator that it isn’t a good place to work. Toddlers can grow attached to their caregivers, so if they are frequently having to get used to a new member of staff, only for them to keep leaving, it’s going to be a potentially traumatic experience.
One way you can find out about staff turnover is by talking to other parents who use the center. They will be able to tell you how many employees have left since their child started.
5. The Staff Aren’t Very Caring
It seems absurd that a caregiver would choose to work in a day care center if they aren’t very loving or good with children. However, it sadly does happen. So, watch how the staff interact with the kids and see just how well they look after them. Do they leave toddlers to cry or brush them away when they want attention? If so, head to another day care center.
One of the most important characteristics a caregiver needs is a loving, natural fondness of children. So, if they come across too harsh and unloving, it’s a red flag you won’t want to ignore.
6. They Don’t Have Time To Meet With You
If you do sign your toddler up to a day care center, you need to know that you’ll be able to discuss any issues or concerns you have. That means, it’s important the management are able to schedule a meeting in a timely manner. If you struggle to get a meeting, it’s a sign they don’t see your concerns as important.
So, only consider a day care that makes time for, and cares about your questions and concerns.
These are just some of the red flags to watch out for. Obviously, you’ll also want to make sure the center is clean and safe. How hygienic does it appear to be and are there any obvious safety hazards you can spot?
Overall, choosing the right day care center is essential if you want to give your little one the best start in life. It gives them an opportunity to socialize with others, they’ll learn to be away from you for short periods of time and it can really aid in their overall development. So, take your time to choose the best day care center and ensure you avoid the red flags above.