Choosing Childcare

December 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Education

There are several child-care options available to you, depending on your preferences, your budget, and your schedule. Here are some ideas and some guidelines to follow when pursuing your child-care needs.


1. Nannies are hired specifically to care for children. They typically do not work around the home that does not relate to the children. Nannies are available on a full-time or part-time basis, and can live with you or come to your house each day. Some nannies have extensive practical experience while others may have been professionally trained.

2. Housekeeper/caregivers are also available full or part-time, and can live in or out of the home. They provide the advantage of taking care of the home and the kids simultaneously. However, if children are younger, and demand much more attention and care than older kids, a housekeeper may not be able effectively to maintain both responsibilities.

3. Au pairs are usually young, live-in women and men who do light housekeeping chores and care for kids in exchange for room and board. Often college and university students are interested in this type of work, but if they are foreigners, make sure they have proper visas and work permits.

4. Shared care is an option some parents pursue. In this setting, several families hire a caregiver who rotates between the families??? homes. This alternative provides a personalized care program which parents are able to design themselves at a lower cost.

Outside the Home:

1. Child-care centers are the most common child-care alternative outside the home. Not all centers will provide the services which you consider important. Some centers offer excellent, personalized services, and others do not. Care must be taken in selecting a center for your child. Some things to check for include staff qualifications, safety of the facility, activities, proper licensing, and caregiver-to-child ratio.

2. Family-care homes are another option. Many parents prefer family care homes over day-care centers for very young children because of the continuity provided by a single caregiver. Family-care homes tend to have less structured programs than child-care centers. Some things to check for include safety of the environment, proper licensing, and the number and ages of the other children in the home.

Interviewing Care Providers

Be sure to include the following questions when interviewing a care provider.

  • What experience have you had in providing care? Look for a variety in family makeup and ages, and the length of experience.
  • What do you do if a baby cries? Look at the problem-solving process of the person. Does the person mention things like trying several things to solve the problem or checking everything a second time?
  • How would you discipline a child? Look for their basic philosophy. Do they believe in physical punishment, or providing positive reinforcement? Is their approach to discipline the same as yours?
  • Ask about feeding schedules and meals. Are they organized and conscientious? Are you satisfied with the food choices?

Evaluate the Setting

  • Does the center have a license that meets state regulations?
  • Does the care provider have adequate education, training, and proper credentials?
  • Ask for references from past employers or other parents.
  • Does the care provider have procedures in case of emergency
  • Is the center safe? (Covered outlets, no sharp corners, cleaners out of reach, etc.)
  • Inquire into sanitary procedures. Do staff and children wash their hands regularly, and particularly after diaper changes or before food preparation?
  • Have fire extinguishers been inspected recently and have smoke detectors been installed?
  • Do they have liability insurance?

Evaluate the Care Providers

  • Are the staff members friendly and helpful?
  • Do you trust them?
  • Do the care providers treat the children as individuals?
  • Are they involved with the children or do they just provide basic needs?
  • Do they show patience with the kids?
  • Do they have a sense of humor and seem warm and affectionate?
  • Are they in good physical condition and able to play with the kids?
  • Do you approve of their methods of toilet training and other self-help skills?
  • Are their philosophical or religious beliefs compatible with yours?
  • Do they seem open to communication with you?

Evaluate the Environment and Program

  • Is the atmosphere cheerful and pleasant?
  • Is there an adequate play area – both indoors and outside?
  • Are there adequate toys which are clean and well-maintained?
  • Are activities and rest periods scheduled or flexible?
  • Are the activities creative and interesting?
  • Is there a drop-in policy for parents?
  • Is there a mechanism for the home/day -care transition and vice versa?
  • Can this provider and setting allow personal attention for your child?

Remember to be open and talk with your co-workers about your breast-feeding. Try to gain their support and interest.

Tags: Child care, Childcare, Nanny, Nursing home, Family child care, Foster care

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