Which child care center is the right choice for your toddler? Your newly two-year-old needs a safe, supportive setting to learn and grow. A top-rated, licensed daycare with experienced educators and plenty of play space is a must-have. But what else does your child need? Take a look at the lesser-known tips for selecting the best center for toddler care.
Learn More About Staff Turnover
Knowledge of toddler development and years of experience working with young children are prerequisites for most early educator jobs. But a diploma or degree in education isn't the only thing you should look for. A high rate of staff turnover may point to potential problems at the center.
A fulfilled teacher who is happy in their current early childhood position isn't likely to suddenly leave. The longer the teachers stay, the more consistency your toddler will have. This can create a caring environment where your child feels safe and comfortable. Low staff turnover also allows parents to form relationships with the caregivers. This gives you the opportunity to effectively communicate with the school's educational staff about your toddler, their needs, and their development.
Get Information On Other Adult Staff Members
Your child's primary teacher isn't the only adult your child may interact with daily. Centers often employ educational assistants to help maintain adult-to-child ratios.
According to the U.S. Administration for Children and Families, young toddler (ages one to two years) rooms with 6-12 children must have at least two trained adults. This should break down to one trained adult per every three to six young toddlers. The adult-to-child ratio for older toddler (ages two to three years) rooms should not exceed two trained adults for a group of eight to 12 students or one trained adult for four to six toddlers.
If the center does meet adult-to-child ratio numbers, ask about the training of each staff member. One toddler teacher and a staff member who works in a purely administrative or other role do not count as two trained adults. Both adults must have the minimum level of education and experiential background to meet the state or local agency's licensing requirements for trained staff members who work directly with children ages one through three years.
Ask About Sick Policies
How can your toddler stay healthy in daycare? The answer to this question depends on the center's sick child and health/hygiene policies. Licensed centers should follow state or local requirements. This may include vaccination requirements, sleeping/eating/restroom area separation, hand washing, and stay-at-home sick child regulations.
Even though it's convenient for working parents to bring sick children to care, this practice can result in a center-full of contagious toddlers. Ask the director when children are and aren't allowed into the building when sick. The center may have restrictions for children with high fevers, vomiting, or highly contagious diseases. They may also require proof of negative testing for viruses, such as Covid, the flu, or bacterial infections such as strep throat, before re-entry.
For more information, reach out to a local child care service.