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Four Steps to Find the Right Child Care

Group of babies playing together.

Step 1: Think About What Type of Care your Child Needs

Consider the following questions:

  • Do you need to find a child care program near your home, work or school?
  • How many hours each day, and days each week, will you need child care?
  • Will you need help paying for child care?
  • If you have more than one child, what type of care do you need for each and do you want them at the same location?
  • Does your child have any special needs that the child care provider has to meet?
  • Do you want your child in a home-based program or a child care centre?

Step 2: Find at Least Three Programs to Consider

To find child care providers, try these sources:

If you are looking for a First Nations provider, contact your local band office administrator.

Step 3: Interview Each Program you’re Considering

Call each of the child care providers you are considering and ask to speak to the person in charge. When you call, have a list of questions ready to ask. The responses you get can help you choose the places you want to visit.

Here are some questions to ask agencies and different child care providers:

  • How does the agency choose providers? Do providers have special training? Are staff registered with the College of Early Childhood Educators? Can they accommodate special needs?
  • What happens when providers are sick or on vacation?
  • What kind of activities do providers do with the children? Are there opportunities to experience art, music, group and individual play, and indoor and outdoor play? Do children watch television shows or movies? If so, how long do they spend doing that?
  • What hours of care are available? Are they flexible?
  • How many children are there? What are the different age groups? What is the staff-to-child ratio?
  • How soon is care available? Do you have a waiting list?
  • What is the cost of care? Is there a charge when children are sick or away on holiday? Is there a charge for late pickup? Is there an application fee? Is a fee subsidy available?
  • Is transportation provided if children have to travel a distance to and from school?
  • How many children do you care for (including your own)? What are the ages of the children you have in care? How long have you been caring for children?

Step 4: Visit Each Option

It’s important to visit the daycare before you enrol your child. Schedule your visit during the day when you can see the daycare in action. Whether you’re visiting child care centres or home, you’ll want to talk with the caregivers, and watch how child and staff interact.

Here are some points to look for:

First impressions

  • Is the location clean and safe? Is the equipment and furniture in good condition?
  • Do the children seem happy and interested in what they’re doing?
  • Are the adults warm, friendly and responsive to the children?
  • If you are considering a child care centre, is the licence clearly posted?
  • Are there adequate napping and toilet facilities? Is there outdoor space for children’s activities?
  • If consider a home daycare, who else lives in the home and may or may not have access to your child? What areas of the home do the children have access to?

The daily program

  • What types of activities are there?
  • What are the policies regarding nap time and toilet training?
  • What type of day-to-day experiences are children involved in?
  • Is there a variety of toys, creative play materials and books that are suited to the ages, abilities and interests of the children?
  • If you are looking at home child care, does the provider take the children to activities outside of the home? If so, how do they get there?

Health, nutrition and safety

  • Are providers and staff trained in emergency first aid and CPR appropriate to the age of the children? Are there policies in place for managing food allergies?
  • What are the procedures for distributing medication?
  • How do they dispose of diapers? (If using cloth diapers, ask if those are acceptable)
  • What procedures are followed in the case of emergency, illness, accident or fire?
  • How is food stored, prepared and served? What kinds of meals and snacks ae provided? Ask to see a menu.

Ask if there is an information package you can take away that may have more details, or that you can refer back to. Find out how soon they need to have the application in for your child. Always contact the child care centre again if you have more questions.

References:

Ontario.ca (online) 2016
Ontario Ministry of Education (online) 2016