If you're like most modern-day families out there you can't afford not to go back to work and thus have to leave your child with a daycare facility. Here are some tips to think about when choosing one.
not too big, not to small
When choosing a child care center, choose one that's not too small, i.e. has more than one employee. Institutions that aren't private one-person shops usually have standards much higher than somebody running it out of their home. You also don't have to worry about where you're going to drop off your child if the provider is a single one-person-shop and is sick one day, or can't make it in for whatever reason. At the same time, you don't want one that's too big or you're child risks not having enough attention. I think a good ratio of children to child care workers is around 6 to 1.
choose an institution that's conducive to learning
If you're child is going to be spending all day away from you being looked after by others, they may as well learn something. Choose a place that teaches children as they are being looked after, you'd be amazed at how much further ahead they will be when compared to children who haven't been in a learning environment.
avoid day out-of-home care that don't offer web cams
Having a camera that allows you as the parent to log in at any time to see how your child is doing is a must these days. It's almost suspicious when somebody caring for your child refuses to do this. If you have a nanny you might want to think about putting some web cams within your home, just for peace of mind that your child is being taken care of.
ask for references and see credentials
Ask for references and ask the provider to give you their credentials. You don't want somebody who's not trained or certified to watch your child. You'll also want to know if the individual or group of people are all completely trained in first aid and CPR in case of an emergency. Also, make sure that the facility is licensed to care for children by whatever jurisdiction they are in.
talk to other parents
Ask other parents where they are taking their children to be looked after. This is a great way to find out which child care providers are the best, and which ones aren't. Also, if you're using a daycare for your child, get to know the parents of the other children.
If you can afford it, a nanny is a great option, you'll have one-on-one care and they will usually perform other tasks around the house like cooking and cleaning. You can hire nanny's on a full time or part time basis, and choose to have a live-in or non-live-in nanny. Most people can't afford in-home care and usually have to resort to using a daycare/day home facility.
If it's a possibility for you, one of your child's grandparents or other close relatives may be retired or have a flexible schedule to allow even part time care. This will save you not only money but some peace of mind as you know that a trusted family member will be looking after your child a few days of the week/month. If you're lucky, you may be able to have your child stay with a relative or a number of them every work day of the week.