As many parents can testify, finding a long-term childcare provider can be a hair-pulling experience. We want to shed some light on how families can find a childcare program that fits their needs today, tomorrow and well into the future.
Create a Wish list
Before plunging into the depths of your internet browser, take a day or two to think about what it is you wish most for your child. This can be a BIG question to unravel, but it’s a good one to answer before committing to any childcare provider.
Philosophy of Care
Do some research into the different early childhood philosophies and see which ones resonate with you the most. Here is a link to get you started. Ask potential providers about their views on child development and try to picture your child maturing in their program. Remember that there is no such thing as a ‘best’ childcare provider, so don’t be coy and get clarity on what each centre can offer you. Create a short-list of the childcare centres that you feel are best matched to your family’s values and beliefs.
From our conversations with inquiring families, this is where confusion commonly sets in as many providers incorporate different philosophies of care without having a specific belief in place. Our suggestion is to focus on a program’s integrity. If you find that a program shifts too conveniently from one belief to another when more polarizing questions are asked, there may be too much emphasis placed on servicing the needs of the program (increasing enrolment) instead of the needs of the children.
As a general rule of thumb, happy and committed caregivers are best able to offer the highest quality of care. If you find a centre with educators that possess these qualities, odds are that you’ve found a potential second home for your child. Ask about staff turn-over rates and if possible, speak with other families about their interactions with the staff.
A safe environment that provides children with plenty of opportunities to develop at their own pace is what we recommend families look for in their search for a long-term provider. Regardless of the philosophy of care, all childcare programs should be able to offer this.
Start Early and Trust your Gut
If a childcare provider checks all the boxes, yet you are still left with a sense of unease, trust your gut and give yourself some time to determine why you feel the way you do. If applicable, ask for an extension on the waitlist just in case you change your mind. Childcare spaces tend to fill up quickly, so the sooner you add your child onto a waitlist, the higher your chances are of registering your child. You can never inquire too early!