Daycare is one of the hardest decisions you will make for your baby. Will you do a home daycare or a center? Is the daycare licensed? Will you do full time daycare or part time? Will you do preschool? Will you need after school care?
When you are making this decision do not expect that all daycare(s) have the same rules and guidelines. You will want to review all of the contracts and for any differences. Not only should you review them for the expectations and policies that the daycare will follow, but also what is expected of you.
15 Staff to Child Ratios Change
In Today's Parent they explain that staff to child ratios at daycare can change. If they do change you may be the last to know. Finding out only if you arrive to pick up your child and see them for yourself. There are many reasons for this. Turnover rates, etc can cause some creativity to be utilized by the centre to make sure everyone is covered. Many centres employee "floaters" that can move to different rooms if they come across this problem. In some circumstances it can be confusing to show up to see different people caring for your child. Be vigilant in asking questions and following up with staff changes and growing class numbers. It's important to know who is watching your child and your daycare will likely appreciate your vigilance. Heck even if they don't appreciate it, who cares!
14 Child and Adult Care Food Program Restrictions
If your daycare centre follows the food guidelines for USDA there may be some restrictions you are not familiar with. I know I wasn't. Below is a brief outline of the restrictions found here:
- No juice for babies.
- Providers may be eligible for reimbursements from the program if a breastfeeding mother comes during the day to feed her child.
- Ages 0-5 are only to be served formula and breast milk
- Beyond 5 months solid foods will be gradually added in
- Children are allowed one serving of juice per day
- Breakfast cereal shall not have more than 6 grams of sugar
- Frying is not an allowable way to prepare food on sight.
There are further rules, but basically the rules are encouraging healthier eating habits. Logically this is the right call, but my heart still weeps for the fry daddy that will go unused.
13 Don't Be a Jerk to Your Daycare Provider
This is probably an unwritten rule that isn't "crazy" as much as common sense. This person is going to spend as much or more time with your child than you. If there is a personality conflict with your provider, move to another one for the sake of all parties involved. If you find yourself getting irritated with some aspect of care, clear the air and don't let it fester. The faster you are able to resolve the conflict the less it will affect your child and their care. There really are no excuses for not communicating. You can text, phone, email or even go in person.
12 Daycare Providers Get Holidays
They even get paid holidays. Again, it's not really a crazy thing when you think about it, but I never thought of things like this before I had a kids. They will likely take vacations. Most daycare providers build in a paid vacation to their contract. It's fair. You get paid vacations, she/he probably deserves one also. I mean, she puts up with your kid. Review your contract to see the days that are considered holidays and the number of days that they expect to be paid vacation. This is one of the things that separates centres from home providers. In a centre you will not have to work your vacation around the hours and time off of the daycare. At an in home daycare you may find yourself being a little more tied to the scheduled days off of the provider.
11 Your Child Has Time Off
You are going to want to check the contract to verify, but typically the daycare will give your child a week of unpaid time to use. This means if you go on vacation, you would be able to not pay the week that the child is not there. Some may require a certain amount notice ahead of time. How fantastic to get a break on price to use towards vacation though, huh? If your child has a particular long lasting illness you may want to check if you are able to use these days too. You will likely find that five days is not nearly enough when you look at sick time and vacations, but a daycare provider needs to be able to plan their income as well.
10 Potty Trained Children Cost Less
Woohoo! One more reason to get that newborn potty trained. Most places will give you a small discount once you reach the point where diapers don't need to be changed. This makes sense. Who wants to deal with diapers when you don't have to? Not I. There are different definitions of what "potty trained" means. Maybe it's able to nap without a pull up. Maybe it's being able to tell the daycare provider they have to go potty. Maybe it's they go when they are asked. Make sure you get clear directions to adjust expectations.
9 Sibling Discount
Check to see if there is a discount for having two or more of the children at the same centre/provider's home. Not only will it save you money, but some day you are really going to miss the time when you got to drop both of your kids at the same place. You will also probably have a sense of relief that at the very least your child has their sibling there to watch over them. Or push them and scream at them... depending where they are at in their love/hate cyclic relationship.
8 Fees May Apply for Early Dropoff/Late Pickup
Showing up to pick up your child early or late can cost you. Make sure there is nothing in contract that charges for picking up after close. The workers at the daycare likely have families to attend to, and being inconvenienced by an a string of days where the parent is late can be a major pain to deal with. Try to be respectful. In many of the daycare's I have attended this was not enforced unless you were constantly late. Don't be the constantly late parent that can't get there on time.
7 Sick Children Should Stay Home
You wouldn't think that would have to be spelled out, but often we as parents are being pressured to spend more hours at work. With this pressure some parents feel that they can't take the day off to be with their children. On so many levels, this sucks. However try to look over the guidelines that the daycare has in place for sick policies. Is a running a temperature considered 101 and up or 100 and up? How many days fever free before they can come back? Do they need a doctor's note?
You may not believe it, but typically there are schedules in place. Try to keep this in mind when you pick up at an odd time. Check in with your provider to make sure that you won't be interrupting if possible. Let the provider know if you will be picking up at an uncharacteristic time. Picking up at snack time can be brutal for all involved. Or gosh forbid it be freezy day and you pick up too early (yeah, probably know that one from experience.) Also if you communicate when you are picking up your child the provider may be able to have your child ready for you when you arrive which is an amazing gift.
5 Approved Pick-Up List
You will likely have to list out the people that are able to pick up your child. This is for the protection of your child. This keeps any Tom, Dick, or Harry from picking up your child and taking off. Make sure you prepare the people picking up that they may have to provide photo id. Again this is to protect the child. You want to make sure to update this list should there be any changes in who is approved to pick up. If you are allowing someone else to pickup your child you may want to let the provider know that day to be on the look out.
4 Shot Records
You may need to provide vaccination records for your daycare. Depending on their policies you may be forbidden to bring your child unless they are up to date on their shots. Different places have different requirements, but always check with the provider. I would even go so far as to run a delayed schedule by the provider for their information. After all there are other peoples kids at the daycare also and you will want to be aware of all the potential dangers. Make sure you keep up to date on the different illnesses running through the daycare as well.
3 Discipline Methods
Always find something that tells you how the daycare disciplines. Have an open discussion with the daycare's you are vetting about how they handle misbehavior. Are there rewards for good behavior? How will their daily behavior be communicated to you? Is there are a chart for you to check before you leave? Is there are paper to take home that they write out?
Does your daycare have a daycare program that they start your child on? What age do they start it? Does it cost extra? Can you opt in or out? Will you need to provide anything additional for your child to be in the program. What time are the preschool activities set for? Do they have different programs for different ages? Can you receive an update on the different lessons so that you can work them at home alongside their lessons? Also in case you get asked questions by your kid and you need to study to be able to answer them.
1 Injury Reports
If your child is injured, will you receive a written note stating that they were? Will you be required to sign off on the injuries? What type of care are they able to prepare? Can they give your child medicines? Which ones? Is tylenol okay for them to administer to your child? Have you signed something to allow them to seek emergency care for your child should they need it during the hours in their care? Most of the time you will want to also provide them with the child's primary care physician.
Rules seem to vary from state to state and I'm sure from country to country. Please share with me any items that you feel were overlooked.