Deciding on a preschool, childcare or daycare facility can be one of the most important (and subsequently stressful) choices in life. The formative years of your childs life are so integral to their development (by age three, children have about 1,000 trillion connections between their brain cells!) that deciding on the right preschool can be integral to their development. The trend in deciding on the best preschool or daycare, however, is relatively new in the scheme of things. The first government recognized daycare was in 1840 France, and in America (and in alignment with the welfare and reform movements of the 19th Century), the concept of child daycare and preschool began when working class families had to send the mothers to work. Realizing the growing need for adequate preschool facilities (especially as women took the helm of supporting their families as the men went off to war), the U.S. Federal Government sponsored daycare for 400,000 preschool children during World War II. In the middle of the 20th century, most working class families were able to subsist on one income (typically that of the father), but in more modern terms, more and more families require two incomes to sustain their standard of living. In fact, today, there are approximately 16,520 licensed childcare centers and 150,159 home daycare providers in the U.S. When selecting the right child care or day care provider, there are few guidelines you should follow.
Approximately 7,000 centers nationwide have been accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. This is regarded as the highest standard, so if possible, begin your day care or preschool search with one of these centers. The next step in selecting a daycare or preschool is to remember that word of mouth and reputation is key. There are very few sources better than first hand experiences. Additionally, what are the credentials of the daycare staff? Is the staff licensed childcare and educational professionals? Are they CPR certified? Will their curriculum align with age appropriate activities? In addition, take a close look at the daycare or preschool facility. Is it clean and safe? Do the children look happy? Enlisting daycare services is one of the most important decisions you will ever make, so be sure to ask yourself these guiding questions before making your selection.
Daycare is not inexpensive, nor should it be. According to the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA), daycare in the United States costs an average of $11,666 per year, or $972 a month. Keep in mind that this figure can be much higher in major metropolitan areas like San Francisco or New York. In addition to cost being dependent on where you live, your childs age and how many hours a week your child will be at the daycare facility determines the price, too.