Searching for a daycare provider for your children can be stressful and overwhelming. It’s hard to imagine someone else caring for your kids, especially if you have to return to work while your baby is still an infant. There are some excellent daycare options out there, and with a little time and research, you will find a caregiver that fits your family’s needs. Here are some tips to help you find the right fit.
Figure out your childcare budget. Two types of caregivers are available: ones that watch your child or children in your home and daycares outside your home. The best fit depends on your families needs, size, and budget. For example, while daycares outside the home of often less expensive than having a nanny come to your house, having more children may change that cost ratio. Daycares usually only offer a discount of 5% – 15% discount on tuition for additional children. Nannies may ask you to add only a few dollars to their hourly rate when you add additional children. Tuition for daycares can be as much as a small mortgage or rent payment, depending on where you live. Some daycares offer part-time or part-week options. Sometimes, in-home daycares (daycares that are run out of someone’s place of residence instead of center) are less. Full-time nannies often require a living wage, as caring for your children is their full-time job. If you work from home, you may only need a part-time nanny or a mother’s helper. As you can see, there are many ways to configure your child care. Doing some research on options and comparing costs per child will help you understand what direction you need to go.
Learn about child care regulations in your state. Each state has a licensing agency that oversees child care centers. The agencies are often under a state’s human services or child welfare department. There are separate guidelines for day care centers versus in-home daycares, and often provide a lot of information about acceptable child/teacher ratios, appropriate policies and procedures related to cleanliness standards, nutrition, and other important components. Knowing what is acceptable will help you notice red flags when you contact and visit daycare centers, including, looking for their license displayed in a public area, or readily available for parents to see.
Nannies au pairs and mother’s helpers are not regulated by the state, but there are certain things you can look for on their resume. When looking at an in-home provider, look for CPR training for the appropriate age level, first aid training, and a degree or classes in child development along with experience. References are helpful for any child care provider you’re interviewing.
Get familiar with curriculum options. It’s useful to know what type of curriculum or developmental model the caregiver or daycare uses with children. There’s no need to be an expert, but if you see a model identified in their information, a quick google search can tell you if it aligns with your parenting style. Some common models are Montessori, Waldorf, High School, and Reggio Emilia.
Search options. There are many options to assist with finding the best caregiver for you children.
Placement Agencies: There are local and national placement agencies that assist families in finding child care, specifically if they are looking for full-time caregivers to come to their house. For a fee, these agencies will work with you to find a nanny or au pair that fits your family’s needs. These services are expensive, by may be helpful when finding someone that will soon be considered a part of your family and providing care to your children.
Online subscription services. Several websites allow you to post a job, access their caregiver database for free, and then require a fee to go through the hiring process. These sites often offer the opportunity to run background checks and make it easy to contact references. Popular sites include care.com or urbansitter.com. These sites of most useful for finding caregivers to come to your house.
Government or accreditation organizations: Many states have a database of licensed daycare centers that is open to the public. These databases may provide information from their inspection reports. There are also organizations that provide accreditation above and beyond state requirements. National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA), Accredited Professional Preschool Learning Environment (APPLE), and National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs (NAC) are all examples of accreditation organizations for child care centers. Individual states may have accreditation programs that child care centers and home day cares may voluntarily participate in.
Finding the right daycare take a little bit of work, but the payoff for putting in the time is hiring a caregiver that you trust. This will allow you to have peace of mind and let you focus on the task at hand at work.