Home Daycares can have some advantages over larger centers…
Studies show that home daycare is a good option because groups are often smaller than they are in centers, the homelike environment is comforting and reassuring, kids have a single, consistent caregiver (sometimes two, if the provider has an assistant), and children may be exposed to fewer illnesses.
Of course, that’s all assuming you’ve found a great provider. An ongoing study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development confirms the importance of quality in childcare, no matter what kind you use. ~BabyCenter Home Daycare Overview
But, how do you choose the right one?
We’re rounding up some tips for you to use when choosing …
A Good Reputation
The daycare should have a welcoming, friendly atmosphere and be known for its nurturing environment. Ask the provider for names and numbers of current clients, and call them for references. Also, your own first impressions definitely matter here.
Bottom line: If you don’t hear good things, and it doesn’t feel right when you’re there, keep looking. ~BabyCenter
Current State License or Registration
Not all states require in-home daycare providers to be licensed, and even the ones that do often have lower standards for family daycares than for daycare centers. Still, some regulation is better than none. And if the family-home daycare you’re considering is accredited by the National Association for Family Childcare, that’s even better — it means the childcare provider has met higher standards. ~WhatToExpect
Just remember that licensing does not always determine quality.
References can be a helpful tool in helping you make your final decision about a childcare provider. Positive word-of-mouth is a powerful endorsement. If a certain daycare has a buzz, ask other parents why they’re raving about it. While you may run into a bit of a bias (childcare providers aren’t likely to refer you to people who weren’t happy with them), nothing is more convincing than hearing how other parents rate their care. When calling, don’t be shy; remember that these are also parents you are calling. They’ve walked in your shoes, understand your plight, and will empathize with your position. By checking references thoroughly, you will be better suited to make an informed and educated decision, all in an effort to help you screen out the not so good early childcare programs from the best ones. ~BuildingBlocksHomeDaycare
A provider that doesn’t have an open-door policy and encourage parents to stop by unannounced could have something to hide. A great caregiver will go beyond merely letting you in by inviting you to come along on field trips, help out with activities, and become part of the “family.” ~BabyCenter
Safety As a Top priority
Safety comes first when caring for children. Be sure the location and all items in it (including toys, dishware, cots, etc.) are clean and in good repair. Ask the provider if there is a fire extinguisher, an emergency exit plan, and a handy contact list for emergency services. ~MarchOfDimes
When you’re visiting a potential site, pay attention to how the staff interacts with the children. Ideally, a caregiver should be on the floor playing with the kids or holding one on her lap. In their early years, babies need close, loving, interactive relationships with adults in order to thrive. That’s why it’s especially important that babies’ first caregivers be warm and responsive, and that even in group care, infants and older babies get a healthy dose of one-on-one time. ~Parents.com
In line with that, do the provider and children seem happy?
Happy Children and Happy Caregiver
Spend some time at the family-home daycare when all the children are there. (If the caregiver won’t allow this, look elsewhere.) Ask yourself some general childcare questions: Do the children seem well cared for and fond of their caregiver? Does the infant caregiver seem energetic, patient, and genuinely interested in the children? Does she get down on the floor and interact with the little ones? Are the kids engaged (and not zoned out, looking off into the distance)? ~WhatToExpect
BabyCenter has a list of questions you can ask when interviewing a potential Home Daycare: Home Daycare Provider Interview
Any tips to add?