Choosing a Quality Child Care Centre

For many parents/guardians, staying at home to raise children is either not a preference or not an option. If you have determined that group care is the right choice for your family, choosing a quality childcare setting is vital to your peace of mind, allowing you to focus on your daily tasks without worrying about the care and well-being of your child.

Choosing a day care centre need not be a daunting task. For an in-depth discussion on this topic, refer to Choosing Child Care: A Guide to Licensed and Approved Child Care in Alberta.

Listen to your intuition, ask the important questions, and you will surely secure a quality child care centre for your most precious gift of all—your child.

Develop a short list.

Identify your child’s and your family’s needs. Begin your search by phoning day care centres and discussing whether they will meet your needs.

Screen your choices.

Once you have a list of possibilities, visit the day care centres and view their daily operations. Prepare to spend an hour or more at each site.

  • Day care centres are licensed by the government and must uphold stringent regulations, but you should also choose one whose philosophy and care routines fit your needs.

Know what you’re looking for.

The following list covers a few critical points that may be overlooked when choosing a child care centre. Ask questions so you are sure of the answers.

  • Meet with the director and take a tour. Look around for hazards and pay attention to the overall safety of the centre.
  • Ask to view the licensing reports, prepared regularly by government day care inspectors. These reports show whether a centre is in compliance with standards—and whether any infractions have occurred, or disciplinary actions have been taken.
  • Scrutinize staff members’ interactions with the children. Are staff warm, encouraging, and respectful? Are they actively engaged in playing with the children, role modelling, and assisting with cooperative play?
  • What type of discipline or guidance do the caregivers engage in? Is this philosophy in keeping with yours?
  • Are staff trained in first aid? What level of first aid do they have, and how many staff carry that level of training on each shift?
  • Consider the children’s daily activities. Is the schedule balanced and flexible, with both free play and structured times? Are they outside every day?
  • Are there play centres and enough safe, age-appropriate toys for everyone? These features are required by law and inspected by the licensing department.
  • Review the meal calendar, which should be posted for parents to view.
  • Observe the diaper changing area. Is it clean? Do staff wash their hands after every diaper change? Are the children assisted or reminded to wash their hands?
  • Do the children appear happy and relaxed? How do you feel in the environment? Listen to your intuition, and never go against it!
Prevention Is the Key to Safety