Follow these steps when making a decision on where to send your child for care:
Screen preliminary caregivers
If choosing licensed child care, you should contact Dakota County Social Services
for public records of the provider. The county’s records included any complaints and what was found during investigation, correction orders, and any type of negative action on the license or disqualification on anyone living or working in the household. Check if there were injuries leading to medical attention.
Setting up an interview
After selecting a few providers that meet your criteria, your next step is to set up interviews. When first calling a provider, you will need to tell the person the age of your child, the type of schedule you have and the date you need to start. You will want to ask about the following:
- The number of years of experience. For centers, ask how long they have been in business and how long the teaching staff has been with the program.
- The ages and number of children they are currently caring for and how many children they intend to care for. For centers, you will want to know the staff to child ratio and what the maximum number of children will be in each group.
- The training they have completed.
- Fees and hours of operations.
- The type of programs they offer.
- Personal concerns such as pets, smoking, special needs or dietary requirements.
Visit a provider at work
After interviewing, you may schedule a visit where you can view the caregiver and children interacting. You should schedule a visit during the times the child care is normally operating. You will want to pay attention to the following:
- Interaction between caregiver and children
- Resolution of conflicts
- Organization during activities and meals
- Safety procedures
- Cleanliness of the facility
Get your child acclimated
Once your choice for provider has been made, you should schedule a time for your child to be at the setting for a short period of time to see how they will handle this new experience. You should plan to spend some time during these trial periods, so you can further observe how the caregiver will handle things. If during this time, you observe anything that makes you feel uneasy, you should talk to the provider to see if any changes can be made. If you feel uneasy, you may want to reconsider your arrangement.