Phoenix offers a wide variety of daycare options to its residents, allowing them to choose between either an institutional facility or an in-home one; parents of preschoolers can choose to place their child in either a “traditional” preschool or enroll them in a Montessori school. Those who desire one-on-one care for their child may choose to hire either a nanny or an au pair, either privately or through an agency.
Selecting which of these choices is the right one for an individual is a difficult task at best, and choosing an individual caregiver harder still. There are many resources that can help parents with this. Word of mouth is a wonderful endorsement. Parents know best what parents like, and the opinions of other families can help offer direction if taken with a grain of salt. Bear in mind that if one parent likes a caregiver and another does not, it is possible they each seek different qualities from a daycare environment; however, if several sources have expressed dissatisfaction with a specific facility there may be a problem.
Any Phoenix Department of Social Services can provide a list of licensed daycare providers, as well as preschools and before and after school care in the area. A licensed daycare is one that has met state requirements for operation and is required to provide at least a minimum level of care to maintain its license. For parents of preschoolers, Social Services and the area Health Department can also provide information and applications for the local Head Start programs, if available.
Local pediatricians can also be a font of information when it comes to finding daycare in Phoenix due to the volume of patients they see-Moms love to talk! It’s fairly likely that any physician who has been in the area for any length of time will be able to recommend a reputable daycare. A pediatrician who is familiar with a child’s history and temperament may also be able to assist you in deciding whether the child would be better placed in a group setting or with one-on-one care, as with a nanny or au pair.
If no results are yielded after following these methods, a phone book or newspaper classified ad will provide a list of providers and numbers; however, as little else is provided with these ads, it is always advisable to plan on visiting a daycare before deciding if it is the right one. You should also prepare a list of questions pertaining to policies such as payment, drop off/pick up times, emergency procedures, staff experience and training, and any other issues you are concerned about prior to contacting the provider. This way all vital pieces of information are exchanged prior to the child ever setting foot in the facility, and both parent and educator know in advance responsibilities and expectations, reducing the chance of misunderstanding farther down the road. Do not be afraid to request to set up an interview or sit in on a class; this is an excellent chance to view their day-to-day routine before signing on the bottom line.