In the last couple of weeks, I've been on the lookout for a new daycare.
So I followed my own advice and came up with a shortlist of 5 accredited daycares to visit and inspect. NEVER sign up for a daycare without visiting and this post will tell you why. You'll notice the things I look out for when evaluating a daycare
Daycare 1: I got through the door very easily (bad security). I introduced myself and told the manager I would like some information about the daycare. She disappears and returns with a waitlist which she tells me to fill. Thanks. Can I have some information about the daycare please? She points me to the fees listed on the noticeboard. Information about your programs please? She looks at me quite blankly. I thank her and leave. FAIL
Daycare 2: This was in a complex with a public library (good, I love public libraries). The outside was a bit untidy but when I got in I was impressed. The center was very roomy. The manager greeted me and told me about the center (good stuff). She let me peek into the toddler room. The kids were happy and the room looked clean. (mama's happy). Then she tells me they can only accommodate 12 toddlers (sticking to low child-teacher ratios is very good). Then I get to put my name on the waitlist. I'm on the third page, number 93. I love this center but I'm sure by the time they get to my name on the waitlist, the kids will be ready for college. NOT A PASS
Daycare 3: Looked ok for the outside. One side of the yard had dirty toys that were obviously not in use and the other side had nice clean toys. I got in and was greeted by the manager. She tells me about the center and shows me the preschool room. I notice the steps don't have railings. (Safety issue but not a showstopper). They have a lot of signs on diversity (a plus in my opinion). I ask to put my name on the waitlist. I fill out the form and the manager makes a big deal about the girls' names. Oh she can never pronounce this. Can she call them something else (eh no!) She then proceeds to call two other workers in the daycare and goad them into trying to pronounce the names; like its some kind of game. This goes on for over 5 minutes filled with insensitive comments and shouts of laughter (AND the napping toddlers are 5 feet away from where we stood). I am fully aware that my girls will face challenges being born to Nigerian parents in North America but I expect that their caregivers will shield them from some negative behaviour and not be the originators. May I add, that the woman also happened to be Nigerian, just from a different part of the country. Their "diversity" was not impressive at all. NOT A PASS In case you're wondering why I didn't put a stop to their silliness, it's because I needed to see real behaviour in the centers I visit. They can put up an act for me but what happens when it's just them and the kids?
Daycare 4: This center was on the quiet corner exit of a one way street. The street had cars parked on both sides at lunch time in the middle of a weekday. I could imagine that dropoffs and pickups would add an additional 15 minutes to my morning commute. That's 15 minutes I don't have as I can barely get to work on time as things stand. NOT A PASS
Daycare 5: I identified this center from the toys I saw on the porch. It looked a bit shabby on the outside but that's not a showstopper. As I got closer, I saw a man painting so I figured out they were probably renovating. I got even closer and realised that he was actually painting over some graffiti that had been spraypainted on the wall. It read "Kill all niggas". I kept driving and did not stop until I got back to my office. SUPER EPIC FAIL
As I picked up the kids later that day, I realized that there was an intangible thing I was paying for in the daycare they attend right now - it's called peace of mind and you can't put a price on that.