How to Find the Right Daycare Provider for Your Child
It’s natural to be apprehensive when we entrust the care of our children to others. How can we be certain that those we hire are will give genuinely good care and are not a potential threat to our little guys and gals? A good start to solving this crucial puzzle is reliance on background checks. In this piece, we’ll discover how to conduct background checks on individual caregivers, the legal obligations required of childcare centers, and red flags you’ll need to look for when touring centers.
Conducting background checks on individual care providers
Rely on a trusted agency or the advice of a trusted friend or family member to find caregiver candidates. Even if you feel you’ve found a home run hire, don’t skip the step of conducting background screening. A legitimately good candidate won’t balk at the notion. For example, one provider, JDP, offers the following background checks:
SSNV and Address History
National, State, County Criminal Records
International Criminal Records
Sex Offender Lists
Security Watch Lists
Fraud and Abuse Control Information (FACIS)
Motor Vehicle Records
Bankruptcy and Credit Reports
Liens and Civil Judgements
Also ask for one or (preferably) two forms of photo ID and contact information for references. Write down a list of questions before reaching out to the references.
How do background checks work at daycare centers?
Federal law calls for states to conduct comprehensive background checks for all employees and volunteers at regulated childcare providers. These checks are conducted before any employees are allowed to work with children and are conducted periodically after their start date. Requirements vary by state; contact your state childcare licensing agency to find out what your state requires. When you tour a daycare center, ask how background checks are administered.
Be on the lookout for “red flags” at daycare centers
Clean employee background checks are not complete assurance that a daycare center is right for your child. Tour the center at least once and preferably multiple times before committing. Classrooms should be stocked with age-appropriate toys and games; note any access to dangerous toys or choking hazards for younger children. Check compliance with state-mandated child/staff ratios. Ask about staff turnover; high rates may indicate low staff morale or the center’s inability to find good employees. Observe how employees interact with the kids and how the kids react to them.
Find the right fit
The right care provider should provide a safe environment and should also reflect your values when it comes it issues such as nutrition, discipline, and nap times. Ask the right questions, conduct your due diligence, and in the end, trust your gut to guide your decision.