Finding Good Childcare

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This information is on finding good childcare. You’ll learn where to find childcare and how to evaluate your choices for childcare.

Finding good childcare that’s affordable is one of the most difficult tasks a working parent has to do. There are basically three choices: a child care center, a family day care home or someone who cares for your children in your own home.

Centers and homes that provide day care must be licensed. However, many parents use unlicensed arrangement with grandparents, other relatives, neighbors or some other unlicensed person.

Having a license means that the center or family day care home meets minimum standards for health, safety, and space. The caretaker must also meet certain educational requirements and have no record for criminal activity including child abuse. But, having a license does not mean quality childcare. Determining that is strictly up to you.

When should you start looking? The best answer is early. At least several months before you need childcare.

Where do you get names to start looking? Ask friends and relatives for a referral or call your local social services agencies of the day care association in your area for referrals to licensed day care providers. Look in the Yellow pages for childcare centers either near your home or your workplace. Many churches, YWCA’s and YMCA’s, Boys and Girls clubs, community colleges and Universities offer childcare. Your employee assistance counselor where you work may also have referrals.

Be prepared to visit a number of sites and spend as much as an hour at each site. It’s not unusual for parents to look at a dozen places. When you visit, try to put yourself in your child’s place. Would you like to spend 10 hours a day there five days a week?

What should you do when you visit a site? The following checklist can give you some ideas for questions and what to watch for:

  • Can you make unannounced visits? (You need to make sure of your right to see what is going on at any time)
  • Does the caregiver respond to all children in a positive, warm and understanding way?
  • Is the caregiver clear in communicating his or her expectations of you. Will there be a written agreement?
  • Is each child given individual attention?
  • Is the caregiver willing to discuss your child with you on a regular basis?
  • Is there a list of references available?
  • What is the policy about who can pick up children. What is the penalty for picking up your child late?
  • Is hand washing after toilet use and before meals a regular routine for both caregiver and children?
  • Is the facility, including the diaper changing area and the kitchen, kept clean and orderly?
  • Is the playground fenced? Are the outdoor and indoor equipment and toys safe? Are poisonous plants, cleaning supplies and medicines stored out of reach?
  • Is there adequate space for active and quiet play and a designated sleeping area?
  • Is there a variety of creative material and equipment that encourages age-appropriate learning?
  • Does the food furnished by the caretaker include vegetables, fruits, breads or grains, milk and meat or a meat substitute? Are the snacks nutritious or just sweets?
  • How much do the children watch television? What programs are they allowed to watch?
  • Is the caregiver’s policy about discipline similar to your own? (Keep in mind that spanking is strictly prohibited in licensed facilities.)
  • What happens if your child becomes ill at day care? Will they keep him or her and, if so, where? Will they give a child medications?
  • Finally, is the program accepting of your own cultural and family values?

When you interview potential caregivers for your home, it’s important that you ask similar questions to the ones suggested for care outside the home.

Once your child is in child care, you must continue to monitor the care on a regular basis. It’s the only way that you can be sure that your child receives the care that he or she deserves.

Tags: Social Issues, Yellow, employee assistance counselor, Childcare, Nursing home, Day care, family day, Child care
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