Daycare situations can be extremely diverse, from friends who watch a few kids in their home to structured organizations that have a full complement of staff and facilities. Parents want to feel comfortable with who is watching over their children, so selection of a daycare program should be done with some diligence. Parents should work through a checklist when investigating and managing caregivers, notes Sheila Marcelo, founder and CEO of care.com
Cost, size and amenities. Cost is always a concern, particularly in a tough economy. When choosing a daycare, parents should consider what the daycare actually offers for the cost. This may be one way to compare one daycare center to another. Parents may also choose to factor in size, as larger centers may have more amenities, while small places may be more personal.
Geography and hours. Some daycares are desirable for their features but may not be practical for logistical reasons. Typically, the reason that parents seek a daycare solution is because they need to work outside the home. Therefore, the parents need to find a daycare that is close to their home or office and is open at the hours that coincide with their schedule. Otherwise, features are largely irrelevant.
Curriculum. A daycare center is not necessarily expected to provide a full academic curriculum like a preschool. However, parents still want a sense of what their children are going to be doing each day. There is a big difference between a facility that provides organized games and activities versus organizations that keep children occupied with electronic media.
Philosophy on conflict. At some point, conflicts that involve a number of children may arise. Even well-behaved children will fight over a toy or get in an argument, resulting in hurt feelings. It is often good for parents to ask the daycare facility how it handles these situations. This also tends to give the parents a general sense of how the organization is run from a philosophical standpoint.