Baby is on the way and you know you will need to go back to work after that magical 6 weeks of leave time. Time to start searching out daycare, which can be an overwhelming search. There are really three options available; daycare centers, family home care and in-home care (such as a nanny or relative care). In the Lansing area, the amount of child care centers can be overwhelming at best.
To start with, you need to know what you are looking for in a daycare center. How do you know the place you are taking your precious little one is offering a quality program? There are several resources available including Great Start Connect and the MSU Family Resource Center, to assist parents in finding appropriate care. Great Start Connect also has a center search option available. This option simply gives a listing of licensed centers that meet your options. You will still want to check them out yourself.
The first thing you want to do is call the center to get the basic information. Is there a space for your child? What ages do they care for? What hours are they open? And What are the weekly rates for care? If your child is older, you will want to ask if he is required to be potty trained.
If what you have heard sounds appealing to you, schedule a visit to check the place out. Most importantly, follow your gut instinct when it comes to the atmosphere of the center. Then check out how the care givers are interacting with the children AND each other. Is it a positive atmosphere? Is the place clean and safe? Are there a sufficient variety of toys/equipment to accommodate the amount of children that will be in the room?
Take time to interview the care giver. If they really want you as a parent, they will take the time to answer your questions. You will want to know about the kinds of activities they provide, education of the employees, how they handle emergencies, their sick policies (though this is usually pretty standard among providers), and their parent visitation policies.
Ask yourself, are you comfortable with this provider, can I afford the rates, is there a balance of child led and teacher led activities available?
As an early childhood educator, I hear about various centers through conversations. Know that I do not have experience with every center in town but the following are several that have a quality reputation in town.
People’s Church Preschool
200 W. Gran River, East Lansing
NAEYC accredited program – People’s Church cares for children from birth to 5 years old through a variety of program options. There is also a co-op option for the school year preschool programs. Rates will depend on the age of the child and the program option you are choosing
Beginnings Child Care
525 N. Pennsylvania Ave., Lansing
Located in the Salvation Army building just outside of downtown Lansing, Beginnings serves children from birth through 5 years old. They also work very closely with Lansing Community College and Head Start.
Kidtime Child Development Center
3320 S Pennsylvania Ave, Lansing
Located just north of Potter Park Zoo. Kidtime offers care for children ages 2.5years through 5 years old. Kidtime is a smaller center that offers a very positive, caring atmosphere for little ones. Kidtime also works with Head Start.
Early Learning Children’s Community (ELCC)
Located directly on the campus of Lansing Community College is the brand new Early Learning Children’s Community (ELCC). The center was built under the direction of the Early Childhood staff at LCC to provide quality care as well as a teaching facility for LCC students.
If you are looking specifically for a preschool program check out this article on preschool options available in the Lansing Area.