Even though our baby was only born in early spring, it appears that we are behind in the game to get into a good day care center. To me, it sounds early to apply for day care centers, but we have friends who put their names in top daycare wait lists while they were still pregnant!
We are just now getting on the ball in doing some research, but we are still newbies. After maternity leave, the plan is to have the grandparents take care of the baby for a year. After that, we plan to put our little one in daycare at the age of 2 until school starts at the age of 5.
After doing a bit of phoning around, it seems that around here, daycare for a 2+ year old costs at least $35/day, $700/month or $8400/year. When I first heard the costs of daycare, I almost had a coronary. The bright side is that up to $7,000/year of daycare costs can be claimed under the lower income spouse. This, for us, should equate to getting a $2,800 tax return thus bring the net cost of daycare to be around $5,600/year .
Back to the topic at hand, how do you choose a good baby daycare? Here are some of the questions that we thought of to ask the daycare companies:
- Cost – For us, generally speaking, the cost of daycare was very competitive across the city with the largest variation being $100/month. Personally though, cost isn’t on the top of the criteria in choosing a daycare.
- Credentials – What child education/caregiver credentials does the daycare have? Are the staff trained professionals, or off the street minimum wage workers?
- Hours – This is a big one for us as the daycare needs to open early enough so that we can drop them off before work (before 8am), and open late enough so that we can pick them up after work (after 5pm).
- Turnover – What kind of staff turnover does the daycare have? We prefer a daycare with low turnover as it would be less confusing for the child.
- Full time or Part Time – It seems that some daycares offer full time, part time, or a combination of the two. Make sure that the daycare that you are considering offers what you need.
- Employee/Child ratio – This is an important criteria for us as we want to make sure that there is a high care giver/child ratio. The typical around here is 1 caregiver per 5 children.
- Procedures when child is sick – What is the procedure when a child gets sick or if there’s an accident? When do they determine that it’s time to phone the parents? Is there a doctor nearby?
- Discipline rules – What if the child misbehaves? What are their methods of discipline?
- Educational and other programs/activities – What activities are planned for the children throughout the day? Are there educational elements to the day? There were some daycares around here that offered an introduction to French which was a bonus for us.
- Food – This is another biggie. What food do they offer throughout the day? When do they offer their meals and snacks? There was one daycare that we phoned that stood out in this regard. They offered a snack for the child when he/she arrived in the morning because some parents are so rushed to get out the door, that breakfast can be skimped on. Then they offered a substantial lunch which follows the Canada food guide, followed by a snack in mid afternoon.
For those who have gone through this already, what are some important points in choosing a daycare for a 2 year old?
photo credit: Shaggy Paul