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Have you started the search for a good-quality daycare for your child? The choice can be hard to make, and there are many factors to take into account. How do you even start choosing a good daycare facility for your child?

Safety, quality of care and educational activities,group size, location and price are all things that parents should take into account when choosing a daycare facility or preschool for their child. Personally, I think safety comes before any of the other factors. Parents who want to know more about this have nobody better to turn to than safety (and danger-avoidance) expert Gavin de Becker, who has written books on the topic, including Protecting The Gift, which specifically addresses child safety.

He has a whole series of questions to ask about daycares, babysitters and schools. The most basic of them are obvious, yet de Becker uses several real-life disaster stories about child-abusing daycares to illustrate that many parents including police officers!?

I do not ask those questions. They boil down to this:

  • Are you a licensed daycare facility, and where does the license come from?
  • Can I see it? (And then follow up by calling that agency and verifying the license!)
  • How do you vet your staff?
  • Do you follow up on the references provided on their CVs?
  • Do you check the sex offenders' registry where one is available?
  • How do you ensure safety within the facility?
  • Does the childcare facility allow parental access?
  • Are they transparent?
  • Have you ever suspected a child in your care was sexually abused?
  • Why?
  • Why not?
  • Would you inform us, as parents, if you thought any of our child's peers were abused, or if you suspected your staff of sexual abuse?
  • Do you have volunteers and if so, how do you vet them?

Besides those, you may ask:

  • How do you ensure safety for our child if you take any field trips?
  • Are field trips optional?
  • Did you deal with any cases of bullying between children?
  • How do you address this?

Relevant questions about racism or other forms of discrimination where relevant. This may include problems relating to multilingual kids or children in non-traditional families.Beyond the safety aspect, educational philosophy and class size are also very important. Here, too, similar questions can be asked, in accordance with what is most important to you.

Some questions I would ask are:

  • To what extent do you tailor educational activities to an individual child's needs?
  • What educational activities do you engage in?
  • Can we bring more advanced, or less advanced, materials if our child needs them? (For preschool, mainly)
  • How much one-on-one attention do children get?
  • How about if they really need more explanation?
  • Can I see your curriculum?
  • Will you discuss any concerns about curriculum not working for our child with us?

Your thoughts on this

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