I’ve now been to two different daycares, one part of a chain and one church-affiliated. Chain A (the others are all chains also) was a private tour, and ChurchCare was an open house.
Chain A was a HUGE bust. Even though it’s placed in an affluent area, and was the most expensive chain on the list, there were things that didn’t deliver on the promise of its location and cost. The infant instructor couldn’t speak English well, and that’s something I feel is very important given how early children can pick up language fundamentals. I expect others to speak to my child as though he’s intelligent, without baby-talk, and in complete sentences. This instructor left me with doubts about the type of exposure my child would have to language, so I was disappointed early on. This chain also teaches Spanish, but it’s not something that a parent can opt-out of should they wish. I don’t know that we would, but I would like to have some say in whether or not my child learns a foreign language, and which one. Lastly, and most concerning to me, they have a menu for the lunch and snacks the children eat (including infants, as that room goes all the way to 12 months). It does not vary based on age, so I asked how they modify the foods to accommodate all the students from 5 months to 5 years of age. The example I used was cinnamon apples. The apples are peeled and cooked, but only diced. Even for infants. I don’t care how finely it’s “diced” by the Magic Bullet you say you have, a child just starting on solid food needs something pureed. That they cannot or will not do so suggests that there is a choking hazard there I’m not willing to gamble on.
ChuchCare was a different experience just by virtue of it being an open house instead of a one-on-one meeting. It didn’t start on time, which I sort of expected but I still wanted it to…I just really love punctuality and it makes it easier for me to plan knowing that something will indeed start at X and end at Y. Everyone was quite friendly, and their facility was very nice. The website leaves something to be desired as there are numerous broken links but I’m optimistic that everything put on the secure site for parents is functional. The infant room was nicer than Chain A, and they participate in a food program so you know your child is going to get exactly the food you want them to have.
The downsides to ChurchCare are the price and the community. The price isn’t as low as I was hoping it would be, so it’s still a net loss of money with me returning to work either full- or part-time. I’ll talk more about that once I’ve seen the other 2 chains I’m visiting and have to make a decision. As far as the community goes, while they’re very nice people I’m just not sure it’s the right fit for us. Part of that is because they expect annual contributions via fundraising and I feel that if I’m already paying a significant portion of money to you (and your prices are not that much lower than your competitors, certainly not by $600 per year) then I don’t want to be on the hook for multiple fundraisers. I don’t want to devote that much time to someplace just because I’m contractually obligated. The other thing is that I’m not sure the demographic is diverse enough. It’s hard being in a 90% environment if you’re in the 10%, and I don’t want that for my child if it can be avoided.
I’m visiting Chain B today after work, so hopefully I’ll have more good experiences!