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A Checklist for Choosing

October 09, 1998|KATHLEEN O. RYAN

Child care experts and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend the following guidelines and considerations when looking for child care:

* Interview the caregiver or visit the facility you're considering at least twice.

* Ask for references.

* Ask about licensing, accreditation or certifications, training, education and experience.

* Find out about costs, hours, meals, holidays, vacations and transportation availability.

* Ask how many children she takes care of, what the policy is regarding sick children, the disciplinary policy (for babies, there shouldn't be one).

* Find out whether you can visit your child at any time unannounced. (There should be an open-door policy.)

* Find out whether there is an emergency evacuation plan.

For a thriving child care experience, parents need to stay vigilant about their child's health, safety and happiness in the child care setting. To that end, check for the following:

* Is your baby clean when you arrive at the end of the day?

* Does your baby develop an abnormal number of illnesses?

* Does the baby get diaper rash?

* Do caregivers wash their hands between every diaper change?

* Experts suggest, for sanity reasons, labeling all personal items (including diapers) and not allowing them to be shared. Count diapers to see how many are used.

* Are you asked to wash your hands when entering the infant area?

* Is everything that is touched by the children routinely washed?

* Is the diapering area safe and sanitary? How are diapers disposed of? Hands shouldn't touch the trash can to open it.

* Are babies put to sleep on their backs within full view of the caregiver?

* If the cribs are shared, sheets should be changed daily.

* Do cribs and all baby equipment meet current safety standards?

* If there is a pool, is it gated and locked?

* Are there safety measures making sure children cannot get outside unsupervised?

* How quickly does the caregiver respond when a child gets upset?

* Babies should spend most of the day on a soft blanket on the floor, not in a crib.

To request information about a licensed provider, call the Community Care Licensing Department of Social Services at (310) 337-4333.

To find out whether your provider has been cleared through Trustline call (800) 822-8490.

For complete guidelines on health and safety in child care, call the National Resource Center, Health and Safety in Child Care: (800) 598-KIDS (5437).

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