If your maternity leave is coming to an end, unless you’re in a very privileged position whereby you can either take your child to work with you (in most situations this is not an option) or your financial circumstances are such that you don’t need to return to work, daycare is your only realistic option. As one of the leading daycare providers in the Toronto Region, with centres in Thornhill and Mississauga, we are only too aware of how difficult it can be to entrust the welfare of your child to someone else, especially after having spent so much time with them over the last few months and forming a close bond. Finding the right daycare team is vital for obvious reasons and can really help to put your mind at ease while you are at work. During this article we are going to discuss some of the main factors that you will need to think about when making your decision.
What You Can’t Afford to Overlook in the Search for a Daycare Provider
The top daycare centres fill up very fast, so it’s important to take action quickly or you’ll be left disappointed. However, this should never be done at the expense of choosing a quality provider. It’s a process that requires you to do your research, ask a lot of questions and be extremely observant throughout. Factors that should be considered during your search include:
- Do They Have a Reputation? – The chances are, each daycare provider that finds itself on your list will have a reputation, but it’s a case of whether it’s good or bad. Ask family and friends that either currently use a daycare service in the area or have done so in the past, whether the standard of service they received was excellent, satisfactory or lower than they expected. What do they like about the centre and what do they think can be improved? If you don’t know anyone that’s used a daycare service in the area, ask each centre directly for several references and contact these people by phone.
- How Far are They from Your Home? – The last thing you want to have to do is trek right across town to drop your kid off at daycare, only to come all the way back for your shift at work. For some parents, location is an extremely important consideration, while others are a little more flexible. The benefits of your daycare provider being located just a short distance away is that it causes minimal disruption to your day and should an emergency arise, you’ll be able to react much quicker.
- The Centre’s Regulations – Of course, there are some areas in which you do need your daycare provider to be a little bit flexible, such as when you are allowed to drop off and collect your child, but in general the centre should follow strict regulations to ensure your child’s safety. For example, operating hours should be clearly defined, there should be emergency and sick policies in place, and you should be able to drop by when you want; daycare centres that don’t allow you to do this might have something to hide…
- Engaging Activities – Daycare isn’t just a place for you to leave your kid when you need to go to work; it plays a vital role in your child’s early development. At a young age, new skills are picked up extremely quickly and it’s always advisable to select a daycare provider that has structured sessions, as opposed to one that just leaves the children to “get on with it.” Quality daycare will involve sessions that encourage physical activity, sessions involving academic development (e.g. reading sessions), in addition to ensuring the children in the group interact, which helps to develop your child’s social skills.
- The Staff – The quality of the staff at a daycare centre should be a major factor when it comes to making your decision. First of all, it’s vital that they are properly trained and fully qualified (this is one of the major advantages of opting for professional daycare as opposed to a babysitter). Ask the manager of the centre about their hiring policy. Are staff required to undergo a CPR check? Do they know what to do in the case of an emergency? Upon visiting a daycare centre, it pays to observe the staff and see how they interact with the children. Ideally the staff should be vigilant, attentive and responsible. Ask the staff anything that is important to you; top quality providers will welcome these questions, while less reputable providers may offer very vague responses.
As a parent, you may need to prioritize certain factors (such as cost and distance) when selecting a daycare provider, but generally all of the factors listed above should be considered when assessing the various options available to you. Advanced Care & Education Daycare serves the communities of Thornhill, Maple, Mississauga and Vaughan, and should you have any questions or wish to visit one of our facilities, don’t hesitate to contact our staff on 905-764-9555 (Thornhill) or 905-270-4555 (Mississauga).