Choosing the right daycare can feel like a difficult task — and the Coronavirus certainly doesn’t make it any easier! If you feel overwhelmed in your search for quality childcare, please know that you are not alone! I hope my tips will help you navigate this challenging environment.
Choosing the right daycare can feel like a difficult task — and the Coronavirus certainly doesn’t make it any easier! Unfortunately, it appears childcare won’t get “back to normal” anytime soon. Until we have a vaccine for COVID-19 (which doesn’t look like it’s going to happen any time soon), parents will have to make some tough decisions regarding daycare services for their little ones.
If you feel overwhelmed in your search for quality childcare, please know that you are not alone! I hope my tips below will help you navigate this challenging environment. I’m also sharing a few alternative childcare options you might want to take advantage of.
Four Features to Look Out For in Childcare Facilities
1. Safety First: Check For CDC Guidelines
Safety should always be your top priority when looking at a facility to take your child to, especially considering the risk of COVID-19. Take a look at the cleanliness both inside and outside of the daycare facility. Ask whether faculty members are promoting social distancing, sanitization, and regular hand-washing. You could also ask what the center’s policy is for face masks and gloves.
Another issue to keep in mind is how counselors will prevent children from potential hazards and emergency scenarios. For instance, do staff members have a clear evacuation plan? Do employees actively encourage parents to keep sick children at home? Also, how do staff members ensure kids don’t accidentally ingest harmful substances like hand sanitizer?
While we’re on the topic of safety, keep in mind that the CDC recommends children over two wear a facemask while in public. Of course, mask standards vary between states, so it’s worthwhile to look up your area’s policies.
And above all else, don’t feel afraid to ask these questions when touring a daycare! After all, it is the potential place you plan on leaving your child at — so you want to make sure that you are ABSOLUTELY comfortable with everything about it. If the daycare is a reliable one, they will have no problem answering each and every one of your concerns.
2. Are There Too Many Toddlers?
If it feels like there are too many children in your daycare, then there probably are! Generally, there should be no more than six toddlers per adult, but even that’s pushing it. Indeed, now that daycares have to practice social distancing, these limits will likely be reduced in your state.
Before you tour a daycare center, I encourage you to look up the proper staff-to-child ratios in your state. This number will give you a good sense of whether your daycare is taking on more than it can handle.
3. Are Staff Members Motivated Or “Meh”?
Without an authentic passion for education, it’s unlikely staff members will create a fun and engaging environment for your children. Working in a daycare poses plenty of challenges, but the best ones have super employees that will rise to any challenge they face with patience and positivity.
So, how do you evaluate the attitude of a daycare’s staff? Well, as you’re touring the facility, note how enthusiastic or unmotivated employees seem to be. Do typical activities and games involve a lot of participation? Or, do employees just pop in a movie to keep the kids “pacified”?
For more info on the quality of staff at a daycare center, you could also ask about employee turnover. Does their staff LOVE to work there? This is a wonderful sign that the facility is a sought after one. Excellent daycare facilities will also promote open communication between staff and other parents.
4. Try A Quick “Parking Lot Patrol”
OK, this last tip may sound strange, but it’s a super sneaky way to figure out how your daycare provider acts “behind the scenes.” When you’re alone in the parking lot, take a few moments to inspect various cars for cleanliness.
Believe it or not, many professionals use this tip to get a sense of how a daycare’s staff behaves off the clock. You’ll probably feel a lot more comfortable if you see clean car interiors versus a cigarette-scented vehicle, right?
Is Daycare Not Right For You? Here Are a Few Alternative Suggestions
Due to the impact of COVID-19, I understand why parents may feel wary about sending their kids back to daycare. Heck, considering daycares can’t take as many kids as before, you might be struggling to even get into one! Thankfully, there are many other options to consider if you’re headed back to work.
For example, many community organizations like churches are now operating “unregulated child care” facilities. I’ve also noticed many friends, family, and neighbors have opened their doors to families in need during these challenging times.
If either of these options aren’t for you, you might consider hiring a personal nanny service. For those who might not be able to afford a private nanny, you could enter a “nanny share” program with friends or family. I recently posted a video about the ins and outs of nanny shares. You can watch it here!
As with daycares, I always encourage parents to take plenty of precautions and screen whoever you’re working with for safety. You could learn even more info on these alternative Childcare Options During COVID in my latest video.
Still Have Childcare Questions? Let me know!
As you’re going through this extra confusing search for a childcare facility, please remember to pay special attention to your gut instinct. Trust me, if something doesn’t sit right with you or your kiddo, then it’s probably not going to work out. According to the latest research, “gut instincts” are an excellent barometer for life’s challenging moments.