Finding the right childcare arrangement for your child(ren) is a task that most people find challenging. With so many choices in the childcare industry, the possibilities are endless. Parents can choose between public childcare center, private childcare centers, home daycare centers and hiring a nanny. There are pros and cons to all of the available choices.
Public childcare centers are generally affordable and are regulated by the state. The center has to comply with state standars and regulations. Most centers have a director, assistant director, lead teachers and assistant teachers. The ratios in public childcare center are generally higher and sometimes children do not receive the attention that they need. Meals and snacks are usually provided for the children. Most public childcare centers are only open during first shift working hours.
Private childcare centers usually cost a little bit more than public centers, but offer lower ratios. The center usually has a director, lead teachers and assistant teachers. Many private childcare centers are located in churches or places of employment. Hospitals often have private centers for their employees. Often times, private childcare centers have longer waiting lists. Some centers require the parents to bring meals, snacks and drinks for their children.
Home daycare centers usually have the lowest rates and offer the lowest ratios. Schedules vary in home centers and some are opened 24 hours a day for parents that work on second and third shift. Children may not have age specific classrooms to go to and the ages of the children will vary. In a home daycare center, there is usually only one childcare attendant. Some centers require the parents to bring their children meals and snacks, and some will provide them for the children. Most often, there is only one provider for all the children.
Families that want their children to stay in their home during the day, usually hire a nanny. Hiring a nanny is often better if you need flexibility, but if your nanny is sick then you do not have a caregiver. Hiring a nanny can be very expensive and you will need to deal with taxes and benefits for the nanny.
Whatever option you choose, you need to make sure that your child will be in a safe and stimulating learning environment. When looking for an arrangement, keep several factors in mind:
1.) Are the caregivers friendly and trustworthy? What types of education do they have? How much experience do they have?
2.) Is the center in a safe location?
3.) What hours can your child be at the center? On what holidays is it closed? What is the inclement weather policy?
4.) How much does it cost?
5.) Are there a variety of age appropriate toys for the children to play with? Are the toys clean and safe? Will your child be running free all day or does it seem structured?
6.) Is there an appropriate place for your child to rest during the day? If she is not tired, what do they do?
7.) Are meals provided? What kind and how much? What do the children receive to drink?
8.) Will your child participate in outdoor playtime? Is the play equipment sturdy, safe and clean?
9.) Are the teachers CPR and first aid certified? In the event of an emergency, will you be contacted?
10.) What types of activities will your child be engaging in?
11.) What is the ratio? Does the classroom or space seem large enough to meet the ratio?
12.) Do they offer an open door policy or is it closed door? Meaning, can you visit the center anytime throughout the day without notice?
13.) If you are considering a home center or a nanny, make sure that you check references, criminal records and do a background check.
Asking a variety of questions will ensure that you are choosing a quality childcare center for your child(ren). If you do not like the first center, visit another. Take your child with you and see how they feel about the arrangement. Visit the center at a variey of times during the day to see what they children are doing. Check with your state childcare organization. They usually have records on the centers and can give more information on complaints and compliments.