|Updated: 4/18/2007 9:11 am
||Published: 4/18/2007 9:11 am
Daycare centers are one of the most common forms of childcare in the United States. Every state has guidelines regarding daycare facilities and how they should operate. Most guidelines include the maximum number of children allowed per caregiver, the required number of rest rooms depending on occupancy level, and standards for commercial kitchens. A state-run licensing agency inspects daycare centers periodically to ensure minimum standards are met, and also investigates complaints that centers are deviating from the guidelines. One comparison tool parents often use when choosing a daycare is cost. After inquiring what a daycare will charge you, ask what the average worker in the facility earns per hour. While the center director may be reluctant to tell you, be aware that the more educated and qualified a worker is, the better his or her wages will be. No confidentiality rules are violated by releasing the average salary paid to caregivers. It's also a good idea to observe caregivers' interactions with children, and examine the rooms for cleanliness. Clutter from toys may be expected, but there shouldn't be excessive dust or evidence of lack of basic cleaning. A daycare's curriculum may be important to you. If you prefer self-paced learning, check out a few Montessori centers. For a more structured learning environment, seek schools with more traditional academic programs. Finally, when you've selected the day care center that best meets your needs, arrange your schedule so you'll be able to spend some time introducing your children to their new environment.