Choosing someone to care for your child while you are away can be one of the most difficult decisions you’ll make. Here are a few things to consider throughout your search.
Do the routines of the child care facility match those that you use at home?
Be sure to ask about nap routines, meal times and television and video game policies. Ask questions about the issues that matter most to you.
Adult-to- Child Ratio
Make sure there are enough adults to supervise the children. Ask about the ages of the other children and keep in mind that infants and toddlers require a higher adult-to-child ratio.
Any person keeping more than six children who are not their own, must have a state license, even if they are watching them in their home. Make sure that the license is current. It should be posted and available for you to see.
Paths to Quality
Paths to Quality is a voluntary program for licensed child care homes, centers and ministries. Participants are held to a higher standard and must meet certain guidelines for quality child care. Facilities are rated on a 1 – 4 scale. Look for a facility with a 2 or higher rating and ask level 1 facilities when they expect to reach level 2, because many facilities sign up for Paths to Quality, but don’t meet the guidelines to advance.
CASY is the local child care licensing agency. They can give you information about licensed facilities and Path to Quality participants in your area. They can answer questions and provide recommendations. You can reach them at 812-232-3952 or online at www.casyonline.org.
Make a Surprise Visit
Even if a child care facility answers all of your questions right on the phone, the best test is to just drop in on them. This way you can get a feel for the true environment. Keep in mind that the children might act up in front of a stranger and you might see some dirty dishes or highchairs, but the place should be generally clean and you should be able to see that all children are being cared for and loved. Don’t hesitate to ask for names and numbers of parents as references.