Stay up to speed
As soon as you determine who you want to care for your child, you can start taking steps to keep up to speed on your specific day care and day care guidelines in general. Take these tips into consideration from the get-go:
- Establish a respectful and professional relationship with your day care provider from Day 1. This will help you feel comfortable asking them important questions down the road without running the risk of offending them and damaging the rapport you’ve developed.
- Determine who your day care provider’s licensor is by calling Dakota County Social Services at 952-891-7400. Having the licensor’s phone number on hand will make it easy for you to periodically call and check on any new licensing actions or violations.
- Stay familiar with child care rules and regulations. For example, know how many children should be in a provider’s care at any one time. It can also be beneficial for you to know what the supervision rule requires of day care providers.
- Exchange phone numbers or email addresses with parents of other children attending the day care. They can be a good source of information about how the day care is run and what the provider is like with different ages of children.
- Develop a back-up plan for day care in case of unforeseen circumstances. For example, illnesses often catch people off guard. Handling those situations will be much less stressful if you already have a plan in place for who will watch your child when they are sick and can’t attend day care.
Follow up in a few months
Now that your child has been under someone else’s supervision for several months, take an opportunity to re-evaluate the provider. Start by talking to the provider and asking any important questions you may have. You may want to see if they are current on their required training or have plans on completing any training in the near future. You can also call the provider every once in a while to see how your child’s day is going.
While such straightforward questions can be helpful, some of your re-evaluation of the day care can be done through simple observations.
- Randomly drop into the day care in the middle of the day. This will give you a glimpse of the home’s atmosphere and allow you to see how children are cared for when parents aren’t expected to be around.
- If your child is old enough, check in with them to determine what their day care experience is like. If they’re too young to communicate, pay attention to how they play and notice what they are modeling.
- Each time you drop off and pick up your child, observe both the infant sleeping area and the general day care space. Do the cribs look safe and current? Are outlets covered? Are heavy, unstable pieces of furniture such as TVs and bookshelves anchored to the floor or wall?
- Try to take note as to whether the day care provider seems to be sitting at their computer each time you come to pick up your child. If they’re spending extended periods of time using the telephone or computer, or watching television during day care hours, they may be less attentive to your child.