Home > Family > Choosing a Day Care for Kabir

Choosing a Day Care for Kabir

This seems to be like the first test for parents, before enrolling your child in school in a few years time. We happen to be forced to take this test sooner than we had planned. I believe that the environment of a good day care provides significant benefits to a growing child’s mental development. Guriya agrees, but disagrees that the day care experience is necessary, if there is family and friends nearby. That isn’t the case here for us here, so we are tasked with evaluating day care centers nearby our home. I sought advice from Subbu-Sushma, since they have already gone through this process with Gargi. I then scoured the internet for information, and learnt about The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the Keystone STARS (Standards, Training/Professional Development, Assistance, Resources) program. NAEYC is a national advocacy group the provides accreditation services to institutions involved in early childhood education programs and early childhood professional preparation programs that meet NAEYC standards and guidelines. The Keystone STARS is a similar initiative by the state of Pennsylvania, focused on early learning programs in the state. The STARS program also provides a listing of the facilities with their STAR rating. I started there and called-up almost all in the vicinity to get information and set-up appointments to visit the promising ones. The list boiled down to just 3: La Petite Academy, KinderCare Learning Center and Salford Mennonite Child Care Center at Dock Woods. I left messages to schedule a visit at all three locations.
La Petite Academy was the first one I visited, prior to Guriya and Kabir returning from Costa Rica. I went prepared with a long list of questions and a notebook in tow. The visit lasted about an hour and 15 mins, and I left with the distinct impression that they are in it for the money foremost and then for genuine child care. Some of the responses of the center director were outright odd e.g. Keystone STARS rating is merely a lot paperwork and they haven’t had the time to do it, so they are ranked at 2 stars. Now, who in their right mind, especially not a corporate entity, would not seek the best rating when that could be a key selling point? It is clear upon reading the Keystone STARS guidelines that each star rating is awarded only when certain criteria are met, such as separate diapering area, specific educational requirements for teachers, safety standards, etc.. Did the center director truly think any parent is so naive as to believe that BS reasoning?!?! I guess there are parents who don’t care to ask about the star rating or are too busy to be bothered. Either way, it’s the company’s gain and the child’s loss. When asked if I could know how many infants (not their names, just how many) in their center were not immunized, the center director said she would have to check if she can share that information with me. When I called to set-up an appointment to visit the center again with Guriya, I reminded her that she owed me a response. Her response was that she could not share that information with me. When asked what their policy was around immunizations/vaccinations for infants in their center, she said the company meets the state requirements. When I requested that they enlighten me on what the state requirement/guideline was, she summarily said I could find it online. I was stunned at her rude response. I should have dropped this center from the shortlist after this response, but since the visit was scheduled, we went ahead. When I visited the center again with Guriya and Kabir, the center director would not let Guriya go beyond her front office, because Guriya did not have her Driver’s License. Probably OK if that were the first time we were there, but I had been there already, and had informed her that we would be visiting again, and we would realize upon visiting the other centers that this was the only place they had such a stupid requirement. Absolute bureaucratic red tape-ism. The center director finally used all the marketing gimmicks such as enrollment fee ($90) waiver and $200 rebate if I sign-up by March 31st, and another week free since I knew somebody who send their kid to this center. I am amazed the company is still in business. Short list down to 2.
Next, Guriya and I visited the Salford Mennonite Child Care Center at Dock Woods. I had not heard back from them until after 3 days of my having left a message for them. This wasn’t impressive, but the center director apologized for the delay in getting back to me, explained the reason for it, and set-up an appointment for us to visit the center. It was pretty difficult to locate the center, but once there (with kind assistance from the center receptionist), we were wowed every step of the way. Clear and straight-forward responses combined with the love and care for the infants we witnessed at the center and the excellent facilities, pretty much made the decision for us. Moreover the center has a 4A Keystone STARS rating. The center is run as a ministry of the Salford Mennonite Church, but is open to all and there is no proselytizing agenda. They teach good values. Their website FAQ section clearly answers any questions in this regard. Surprisingly, the full week fee for this center was less than the part-time (3-day) fee at La Petite. Guriya and I were very happy with all that we saw and decided that this was the day care for Kabir. We however, decided to still visit the third center in our shortlist.
KinderCare is another company with a national presence. Researching them, I landed on their Facebook page and some of the discussion items showed the company in very poor light. The fees and facilities are different at each KinderCare location, leading me to believe that overall standards would also differ. Subbu and Sushma send Gargi to a KinderCare location in NJ, and have been extremely satisfied thus far. However, our experience wasn’t that great. The infant room smelled of baby formula, and the teacher was a veteran (20 years at the center) and frail looking gentle lady. We doubt she has the energy to play with infants. All the infants in there, when we visited, seemed very quiet and passive…almost conspiring to not tax the old lady too much. Guriya and I did not like that at all. Kabir is an ebullient baby and we feared his ebullience being toned-down in this environment. The interaction with the center director was better than at La Petite, but the hard sell approach was overt and off-putting for something as delicate as child care. I guess that’s what you get with these corporate entities.
Anyway, we had a clear winner, and are hoping Kabir enjoys his time there.

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Categories: Family
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  1. March 20, 2011 at 11:29 pm

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