Finding a daycare near me was one of the biggest tasks I had to do while relocating. I was very sure I wanted professional childcare while my daughter is still young. I was not comfortable in having a nanny at home while she is still in preschool. So finding a good Creche was the only option for me. It was a long and tedious process and I learnt a few things along the way. Here are my considerations for choosing the right daycare option.
Considerations for Choosing Daycare and Creche
Compare Staff Child Ratio at the Creche
I was appalled to find that some daycare centers ran with staff to student ratio of as low as 1:5. Can you imagine if there are 5 kids screaming for your attention? I realised that this was the most important thing for me. Having enough care givers. My friend said that in US, the ratio needs to be 1:1 or 1:2. Another thing to consider is the quality of staff. Most centers would have a split between teachers and maids. You need to ensure that the center is not running primarily on helpers. They need to have enough teachers throughout the day. Staff who visits for specific activities like Dance, Art, Craft or Martial Arts needs to be extra and not counted in this ratio
Check Infrastructure of the Daycare Centre
The center should be clean and with a high level of hygiene. This is a given! I would also recommend seeing the place after hours. I found that in some places, the bathrooms were used to store plastic benches and toys after the kids were gone. Another place had a dysfunctional kitchen. They used the overhead kitchen cabinets as shoe racks and right underneath was the microwave where kids tiffins were kept and food was heater. These were complete deal breakers for me. be careful of how much space the daycare centre has. If it has a secure open playing area, nothing like it! Even indoors, there should be ample place for the kids to move around and play. The toys, furniture, first aid needs to be looked at as well. You must also see of they have a quarantine room. If the age range of children at the daycare goes from infant to toddlers, there needs to be a separate infant area. This is essential for the safety and health of both.
Inquire about the Daycare Center Communication Methods
Some creches will provide live cctv feed to the parents while others will send them daily updates via sms, email or whatsapp. Find out all the forms of communication and check the regularity of feedback. Inquire about the incident reports mechanism. How are parents notified in case the child has an accident or falls ill? What are the emergency procedures they follow. How often are the parents invited to meet the staff?
Check the Operating Days and Timing of the Daycare
This had started out as the most important criterion for me. The daycare center needed to start early and end late for me to beat traffic in the morning and allow for some late evening meetings. I also wanted an option of Saturday. However, the one I ended up choosing did not satisfy any of these. I realised that as long as the timing allowed me spend sufficient time at work, I could be flexible with this. However, the operating days and timing are very important considerations and it totally depends on your work timings and other support system.
Interact with the Staff at the Creche
Last but not the least is the attitude of the staff. Interact with the childcare providers and if possible, observe them with the other children. The day I went to visit this daycare, I saw the center co-ordinator cradling a two year old in her arms. He was a new child and was crying for his mother. I saw how everyone was treating him. And realised that the children at that centre are loved! As against another center where we were talking to the teachers and right behind us, in the open the kids were being made to change clothes. You definitely want to avoid such places.
There are other considerations too like whether the provide food, what activities they have etc. These can be the secondary considerations since there are ways of working around them. What are your considerations?