How to Find a Child Care Provider

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  • 7/12/11
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  • Finding a Child Care Provider
    Deciding on the right care provider for your child is one of the most important decisions you will make. The right provider will provide a safe, nurturing and stimulating environment for your child. Give yourself several months to find the right child care situation. The payoff in terms of your child’s physical and emotional health will be enormous. Before you start your search, learn what to look for in a potential child care provider.

    1. Decide which type of child care situation is right for your child. Some parents look for the socialization opportunities presented by a large day care center, while others prefer the family atmosphere of child care in a private home. Consider location. Do you prefer the center to be closer to home or work?

    2. Ask around. Word of mouth is a powerful tool in the search for good child care. Friends and friends of friends stand as some of the best sources of information you can find. Visit www.naeyc.org, the website of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, to search for an NAEYC-accredited program. Look for child care centers in the Yellow Pages, and make some calls.

    3. Visit and ask questions. Ask about the caregiver-to-child ratio. A good facility will provide one caregiver for every four babies or every ten 4-year-olds. The smaller the groups, the better the situation for your child. Ask about hours of operation, cost and whether meals are included or should be brought from home. Ask what kinds of meals are provided, and determine whether they are nutritious. Ask how many children attend the care center. Find out what the staff turnover rate is.

    4. Evaluate the caregiver. Watch interactions with children, and decide whether this is a person you could trust. Is the caregiver patient with the children? Does he or she seem overtired? Are the children constantly supervised? Does the caregiver listen to the children and seem affectionate?

    5. Take your child for a visit and see if he or she seems comfortable in the environment. Watch how your child relates to the staff, and decide whether you can picture your child going to the facility on a regular basis. Ask your child for his or her impressions.

    6. Consider the physical environment. Does the provider have a child care license on display? Is the child care area clean and safe? Are the children encouraged to practice proper hygiene, such as hand-washing? Are dangerous items kept out of reach of children? Are there smoke detectors and fire extinguishers?

    7. Listen to your instincts. If any aspect of the facility makes you uncomfortable, continue your search. Your child will be spending a significant amount of time in the child care situation. Spend as much time as necessary to ensure your child will be safe, happy and properly supervised. If the facility you really like is full, sign up for the waiting list. A spot will eventually open up, and the wait will be well worth it.

    Questions:  

    1.  Did this help you find a child care provider?

    2.  Have you used any of these steps before to find a child care provider?

    Image Credit: dcarlson54
    Written By: Shannon R
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