Do you have to go back to work at some point? If so, start your search for childcare up to a year prior. Nannies and au pairs are available to come to your home. Or you might be able to swing taking your child to a relative or friend. If neither of these options works, a childcare center might be the way to go.
New Jersey childcare centers serving six or more children must be licensed by the Department of Children and Families. Consider the following guidelines.
Are children supervised at all times, even when they are sleeping?
Handwashing and Diapering
Caregivers should scrub hands with soap at least 10 seconds before and after diapering, touching bodily fluids, and handling food.
The director should hold at least a BA degree and should have worked in childcare at least two years.
The lead teacher should hold a BA degree in a child-related field and have worked in childcare for at least a year.
Do all of the children enrolled have required immunizations?
Staff to Child Ratio
The National Association for the Education of Young Children recommends one caregiver for a max. of four children from birth–28 months.
Have all caregivers gone through a background check? Have they been trained to prevent, recognize, and report child abuse?
Are medications, cleaning supplies, and poisonous materials properly labeled and kept out of reach of children?
Are first-aid kits and emergency plans in place? Are fire drills practiced monthly?
Is the outdoor play area developmentally appropriate, clean, and inspected regularly for safety?
Source: NJ Department of Children and Families, www.state.nj.us/dcf/families/childcare