Childcare Advice in Your Neighborhood

With two-thirds of all children under the age of six coming from a home where parents both work outside of the home, the majority of children today are part of the child care system. If you are looking for child care of your son or daughter, this article can save you valuable time and money and put your mind at ease by finding the perfect option for your family.

Make a list of what’s important to you.

�· Are you looking for a location close to your home? Close to work?

�· Does your child enjoy large groups or smaller ones?

�· Do you prefer an in-home center or a large day care center?

�· Is a complete schedule of activities available?

�· Are you able to drop in anytime to see your child or do you need to call first?

�· What is the teacher : student ratio?

Ask, ask, ask. Ask all your friends, family, co-workers, doctors, neighbors and referral agencies for options in the area you prefer. If you get a bad word from someone about a home or child care center, mark them off your list. Ask them how their children enjoy going to child care, how he or she enjoys the activities and how often parents are updated on their children’s progress.

Once you have a list of potential centers or licensed in-home providers, call to schedule an interview and walk through of the facility. During your visit, look for current licenses posted and note how the children are interacting.

�· Are children happy? Are they enjoying the activities?

�· Is the staff warm and friendly to the children?

�· Does the staff discipline in an appropriate way, such as time out, or do they ridicule and spank the children?

�· Are there plenty of different types of toys, like puzzles, blocks, art supplies and musical instruments to allow children to use their imagination? Is there free time during the day to allow the children to choose their own activity?

�· Are there menus (if lunch and snack is provided) posted? Are mealtimes relaxed and is conversation encouraged at mealtime?

�· Are children supervised at all times?

�· Is the environment inside comfortable, without smoke and is it a nice temperature?

�· Are the bathroom facilities separate for adults and children? Are there at least one toilet and one sink for every fifteen children over potty-training age?

Once you have narrowed down your list to your top choices, drop in, without calling, at different times of the day to make sure the facility is as it was presented when they were expecting your visit.

When you’ve made your choice or have it narrowed down, make sure there is space for your child. You’ll also want to make sure you understand the hours of the program, the expectations when your child is absent (will you need a doctors note to return?), the requirements for registration (immunizations, physical exam, potty trained), and the pay schedule.

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