These days, many parents find themselves in need of a good daycare for their children. But with so many daycares available, trying to find the right one can be a scary experience. Well, it doesn't have to be. Here are some steps to help you find the daycare that best suits your needs.

1. Make a list of daycares in the area.

Making a list can be done by searching on the Internet or contacting your local state department. Keep in mind that exact search methods may vary depending on geographic location but Google or another internet search engine would be an excellent place to start. Suggested search engine terms include "daycare + location."

2. Compile a list of questions that you want to ask the daycare.

Before you contact some of the prospective daycares, it's important that you come up with a list of questions to ask them. Here are some examples of questions that you might consider asking.

Are you licensed?

Although it isn't absolutely necessary to choose a daycare that has been licensed by the state, licensure does imply certain things about a daycare that might otherwise be lacking. Obtaining a license can be an involved process, and as such, it can mean that those in charge of the daycare are willing to make an extra effort for your child. It may also imply that the persons in charge of the daycare have a background in child care. Take note: Some areas may requirelicensure from daycare providers.

What is your emergency plan for an injured child?

This interview question draws out details from the individual about planning that has occurred beyond the daily activities. A well thought out answer to this question can let you know that the provider is responsible and has the best interest of your child in mind.

Why do you provide daycare?

The answers that you receive from this question will help you get a feel for the care provider's personality and motivation. Does the person sound like they enjoy spending time with children? Are they well-spoken and polite? Do they seem to know a lot about child care? If they respond with a simple "Because I need the money," then you might want to keep looking.

3. Call the state license/ inspection department.

With you current list of daycares in front of you ask the state department or other governing body for feedback about each daycare. While they only have information about licensed daycares, they have great advice on what to look for. Your top choices can be reinforced after obtaining audit information from the state.

4. Narrow down your list and go for a visit.

After you've gotten some government feedback, you should have an easier time weeding out some of the less impressive daycares from your list. When you feel that you narrowed the group down to only the top few hopefuls, then you'll be ready to make some visits. Take along a list of questions you want to ask and things you want to see. For instance, you might want to see how food is prepared or you might need to make sure that the sleeping area is safe for your child. If you would like to make any special arrangements regarding your child - such as those having to do with diet or allergies - this would be the time to discuss them. Also, know that most daycares have a list of parents that you can contact who are willing to provide feedback of their experience.

Finding child care for your little one can be scary, but it doesn't have to be a burden. With a little research and groundwork you can find a provider that you and your child can be happy with. Remember, if you plan ahead and do your research, your family will be much happier in the long run.

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