A Child care center is a place where parents can drop off their children for part of the day while they are at work. It is a place where children can be left by their parents to participate in supervised activities. The children might be able to learn something, or they could simply play with one another. The majority of child care centers offer play-based activities designed to promote learning and development.

How Do You Choose a Child Care Center?

It's that time when you need to find a child care center for your little one. Child care centers are not created equal. Here are four tips to guide you when selecting a center for your infant, toddler, or preschooler:

Cost Should Not Be Your Only Determining Factor

You might be tempted to take the least expensive child care option, but don't do it just because of the price. You'll need to look at other factors as well, including location, hours of operation, teacher turnover rate, classroom size, and philosophy.

Make Sure Your Schedule Fits Their Schedule

The best way to tell if a child care facility is right for you is to look at their schedule. If it doesn't mesh with your work schedule, then you'll have major problems. Some child care centers are open until later in the evening, while others are only open for certain hours during the day. Make sure you know their policies upfront to make sure there aren't any surprises later on.

You Don't Need to Rely on Word of Mouth Referrals Only

You'll hear about some child care centers from friends and family, but don't limit your options on their recommendations. Like with any other purchase, take the time to do your research before making the final decision. You can find helpful information online at sites like Great Start to Quality, Winnie, Sittercity, and Momni, which offer recommendations, ratings, and reviews of early learning programs in different states.

Understand How Their Rates Are Determined

Rates for child care centers are based on several factors, including teacher salaries, transportation, number of children in the classroom, and more. You compare different centers and choose one that fits your budget. Take time to ask about any additional charges that may come up, including registration fees, meals, and supplies. Make sure you know what is expected from both parties, so there aren't any surprises later on.

The Bottom Line

If you are a parent, chances are that you will have to put your child in a child care center at some point. Use these tips to help you choose a center that is the best fit for your family.