When I started fostering, I only wanted school-aged children because I wanted them to have the same schedule as my son. However, I quickly discovered that as I began accepting children into my home, they may not all be school-aged if they were siblings. Therefore, even though I wanted to stay at home with them, it was not possible, so I needed to find a daycare that could handle before and after school, full daytime care, and be convenient. Fortunately, the agency covered the cost, so that challenge was not a factor.
Daycare can be an excellent place for children to spend their first few years. Especially kids in care will get an opportunity to be kids and to interact with their peers in a safe environment. Before choosing a daycare, sit down and list the things you want in a daycare.
Creating a list of priorities will help narrow down the type of daycare you need and want for your family. High on my list of requirements is for the children to be in a safe, healthy environment, be cared for well, and be encouraged to build friendships with other kids and learn new things. The daycare also needed to provide the children opportunities to play outside.
Take your time and be intentional with choosing a daycare for your kids. If you cannot care for your children in the earliest years of their lives, by choosing a daycare, you are selecting substitute parents. Your kids will be shaped and formed by the daycare they attend. With kids in the care, you will need to find a daycare that will understand their trauma and needs and possibly have service providers come into classes to help them.
I selected two daycare center locations for very different reasons. They are both very close to my home and would have room if I had children who would need to attend with last-minute notice. The first daycare is very structured, with academic expectations, and family-oriented. The second daycare center was structured, play-centered, and able to handle trauma and trauma-based behavior. Both locations were clean with various educational toys for children of all ages. The daycares prioritized feeding the children healthy foods and helping them have a healthy, active lifestyle right from the start. Choosing a daycare is crucial; determine your priorities and don't settle because they become part of the family.