Saturday, April 11, 2009

Choosing child care

The second part of my decision to take that job is the child care I found. I looked at many formal schools and day care centers and when it seemed I was not fully satisfied with what I found, my sister-in-law reminded me that I should look into licenced providers that run a day care out of their home. So I consulted a local classified flyer and found a woman who cares for children out of her home along with a couple staff members. I found them to be nurturing, kind, yet structured and I believe they will foster the children's individual growth. The atmosphere seems very much like home and both my children will be in the same place, in the same room in fact. This may provide them with security and me with comfort when I am away. It is difficult to find childcare to satisfy each individual parent's needs and sometimes it must come down to necessity or convenience or logistics for them that trumps the quality of childcare. But when I said this is all meant to be - it seems I have found it all. And I have seen some facilities I wouldn't dream of putting my children in. Some questions to ask are the following:
- is there frequent staff turnover
- where do the meals come from, what beverages are served
- security of the facility and outdoor area
- napping conditions
- is the TV used, if so how often
- is hand washing enforced both in staff and children
- do they teach responsibility -cleaning up toys, putting food, etc. in garbage
- what are the hours, are they flexible
- remember morning traffic- it may make a short distance unreasonable
- are there other fees- registration, meals, back-up care for vacations/off-weeks from school
- ask for references from parents with existing kids enrolled there, they will either affirm your gut instinct or bring up other concerns you should work out first, or give another perspective
- does your child enter willingly, speak of their experience positively
- spend time with your child in the center/home and if you have the means, allow your child to spend a couple hours there alone before you start them full time
- does the center/home have an evacuation plan or emergency plan and transportation
- do they take field trips- if so how (on earth) is this executed
- speak with the specific teacher/care giver that will be with your child's age group
- try negotiating the cost, esp. with more than one child
Most importantly, walk inside. Spend some time there, listen to the interactions between staff and children and between the staff members, visit often at different times of the day. You will probably get a feeling, weather good or bad rather quickly, but all the "data collection" so to speak will help to make you more comfortable and confident when you are away.
When you are comfortable with where your kids are, you will be able to do your job well and continue to be a good mother when you return to them. And remind yourself that they are enjoying several fresh faces during the day and this is probably better than you on your crabby days!

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