Children can spend up to a third of each weekday in child care, and parents want to feel confident that their kids are making the most of their time and meeting their developmental goals in a positive environment.
Child care centers are a popular care option since they are an affordable way to access early childhood education and peer socialization, but parents need to be reassured that their kids are safe and being cared for by nurturing, qualified, enthusiastic staff.
For a child care center to stand out to discerning parents, and most importantly, to care for happy kids, it’s important to get a picture of what success looks like. To help out, we’ve put together this list of the top 15 signs of a great child care center. We hope this list will help parents identify the truly great child care centers in their communities. Child care providers may also use this list to better understand what it takes to provide the best experience for kids, and effectively highlight their strengths to prospective customers.
15 Signs of a Great Child Care Center
1. Up-to-date Child Care Licensing
State and federal governments set the benchmarks that child care centers must meet to license their business (with some exceptions, such as certain in-home or religious child care operations). Although child care licensing is not a guarantee of excellence, it does show that the center is stable, responsible and on top of its legal requirements.
2. Safe & Secure Facilities
Safety and security encompass a wide range of tools, policies and procedures, from vaccination requirements to childproof door locks and visitor screening. Every child care center should have:
- secure classrooms with carefully controlled access
- first-aid qualified caregivers
- thorough sanitation measures and sick policies for both kids and caregivers
- a comprehensive fire safety plan with frequent drills and smoke detector testing
- classrooms free of choking and tripping hazards.
Excellent child care centers put kids’ safety first, and that should be visible in all aspects of care.
3. Qualified Child Care Providers
Training in early childhood education or child development is an asset for child care providers, so that they can plan their activities and lessons in accordance with the most current understanding of kids’ developmental needs. A center director, who is responsible for the educational strategy of the center, should have at least a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field — a master’s is even better.
4. Detailed Curriculum & Lesson Plans
A great daycare center isn’t just a babysitting service, it also coordinates its activities into a broader curriculum with well-defined educational outcomes. Parents will see detailed daily lesson plans, designed with reference to the curriculum’s goals, showing that the center’s teachers have kids’ potential in mind and are doing the hard work to help them reach it.
5. Separated Age Groups
Different age groups have different developmental and educational needs. With that in mind, good daycare centers keep age groups separate. Separated age groups allow lessons, books, toys and games to target each stage of children’s development. Most importantly, infants should be kept away from older kids for the littler ones’ safety.
6. Low Staff-to-Child Ratios
Easily quantifiable and with a proven impact on outcomes, staff-to-child ratio is one of the clearest ways a center can demonstrate its commitment to excellent care. The ideal staff-to-child ratio varies by age group, with lower ratios recommended for younger children. That way, every child gets the individual attention they need to thrive.
7. Stimulating Environment
A well-run child care center is busy, but not chaotic. It’s full of active kids who are engaged in playing and learning, with attentive caregivers as guides. In a homelike environment with well-maintained toys and facilities, kids can make the most of their curiosity and imaginative spirit. Passive entertainment, such as television, is to be avoided.
8. Healthy Meals & Snacks
Attention to kids’ diet is an important responsibility of child care centers as guardians of children’s health. Make sure that meals are:
- Regularly scheduled, with main meals and snacks at proper times.
- Wholesome, fresh and made with few to no processed ingredients.
- Well-balanced, with veggies, fruit, lean proteins and whole-grains.
- Kid-friendly but diverse, to get kids used to enjoying healthy food.
- Allergy-friendly and accommodating to individual dietary needs.
9. Consistent Rules and Policies
Clear, simple, well-communicated and consistent policies are a sign of a well-organized business, and reduce headaches for parents, staff and kids alike. Parents need to know what expectations are surrounding payments, dropoffs and pickups, food from home and absences. The center should clearly outline its procedures for emergencies, safety, discipline and medical situations. Transparency and accountability are the foundations of trust between parents and a child care center.
10. Easy Billing and Payments
Paying tuition fees isn’t necessarily fun for parents, but it doesn’t have to be a chore. Parents appreciate a child care center that provides convenient payment options. Child care billing software can make it easy and stress-free to get automatic payments from parents, enable online payments and streamline accounting.
11. Effective Use of Technology
An important sign of a great child care center is constant improvement, and that means keeping up with the latest technology to apply it in the classroom and beyond. Popular technologies you’ll see at the top child care centers include:
- Biometric scanning for secure keyless entry.
- Interactive whiteboards, tablets and e-readers.
- Surveillance cameras and video updates for parents.
- Online parent portals with digital daily reports.
- Digital attendance tracking for contactless check-in.
12. Strong Parent Engagement
No parent wants to drop off their child at a center where they will have no idea what’s going on all day. Child care daily reports, parent/teacher meetings, curriculum nights and open houses are great ways to maintain lines of communication with parents. This back-and-forth is key to keeping parents abreast of their kids’ progress and opening the center to parent feedback.
13. Excellent Online Reviews
A good child care center will be willing to take responsibility for online reviews and address patterns in negative feedback. Encouraging parents to read reviews and post their own is a positive sign that the center embraces feedback, owns up to criticism and knows it serves happy families.
14. Positive Community Reputation
Although some child care centers may be able to control their online reputation, it’s very difficult to manage impressions shared by word of mouth. Parents of former students, teachers at local schools, pediatricians and former students themselves will have great things to say about a child care center that’s an asset to the community.
15. Happy Staff & Happy Kids
Above all, a child care center should be a happy place for staff and kids. When kids are thrilled to go to daycare every morning, that is a strong sign the center is doing things the right way. A center staffed by enthusiastic and patient caregivers with a low turnover rate will foster that eagerness and create a joyful atmosphere that will be visible to visiting parents.
Make Your Center Stand Out with Procare Solutions
To impress parents and maintain a reputation of excellence, trust Procare Solutions to enhance your operations with the things parents care about most. Procare provides comprehensive child care software with the power to help you manage every aspect of your center, enrich classroom and parent interactions, and automate the payment process.
Procare makes it easy to show parents you understand their needs and concerns, with powerful features like:
- Child care security equipment, including keyless entry, interior door control, and biometric fingerprint systems.
- Convenient automatic payments and online billing for hassle-free tuition.
- A parent engagement app with daily reports and videos.
Are you ready to find out how Procare Solutions can help make your child care business a success?